Pain is nobody’s joy. But it is Joy Lenton’s constant companion. 

Joy describes herself on her blog, Words of Joy, as “wife, mother, M.E (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) and chronic illness sufferer, poet and blogger who writes about issues of life and faith from a Christian perspective.”

Through the power of story and poetry, Joy opens her life to readers in a transparent expression of trial and triumph–with Christ at the center of all things, in whom she takes both joy–and solace.

Her regular blog posts are liberally peppered with passionate original verse and poetry drawing the reader into her daily life with pain. But in her latest book compilation of poetry, Seeking Solace: Discovering Grace in Life’s Hard Places, she extends an invitation to share her journey in a very intimate way.

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Sandwiched between two “whispers” of God’s voice inviting the reader to settle into His Presence, there are four chapters: Love, Life, Loss, and Faith. The Love chapter captures imagery of a young bride taking joy in wedded bliss. Reality invades idyllic days in Life, and eventually beds of roses are wracked with thorns and decay in Loss.

Enter “life’s hard places” noted in the book’s subtitle. The writing begins with a broad view of brokenness common to all: “In every pew sits a broken heart/In every church we’re falling apart.”

Soon the tone zeros in on Joy’s personal relationship with brokenness and pain from childhood to the place of the physical weights that keep her bound. I loved the likening to Cinderella: “Sitting in ashes–I shiver/cold and dream/. . . limp with longing/as I ache to fly free.” The selections in this chapter plumb the depths of a heart truly scarred by the rigors of pain, drowning in fear, loss, toil, weariness, grief, sorrow, anxiety, and hopelessness. At times I wanted to look away. But the author does not release the reader so easily. A sense of despair tempted me to close the book on Joy’s pain–until the Faith chapter loomed large with the turn of a page. And pain turned swiftly to joy.

My favorite phrase came when, addressing God, she rejoices: “You write old stories with new endings . . .” 

Joy’s faith buoys her pain to a place of transformation where there is “no lingering sting”. I cheered with her in triumph and the hope her words are empowered to weave in any aching heart in Faith: “Now with our Captain at the helm, these surging tides no longer overwhelm.”

Joy’s pain is not her undoing–but the making of her. She draws purpose from sour wells and finds the solace she seeks. Her words are mile-markers directing readers on their own journey towards solace in the healing presence of the Lord. Here’s a poetry book to tuck by your Bible as a devotional respite when hard places intrude.

Seeking Solace: Discovering Grace in Life’s Hard Places is available on Amazon

Visit Joy Lenton blogging at Words of Joy.

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Sharing Book Review: Seeking Solace by Joy Lenton this week with:

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