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Thursday, April 6, 2023

Book Review: True Life: Practical Wisdom from the Book of Ecclesiastes by Carolyn Mahaney & Nicole Whitacre

BOOK review
Started on: 8 February 2023
Finished on: 18 February 2023
Title: True Life: Practical Wisdom from the Book of Ecclesiastes
Author: Carolyn Mahaney & Nicole Whitacre
Publisher: Crossway Books
Pages: 176 pages
Year of Publication: 2023
Price: Rp 331,299 (

Rating: 5/5
*This e-book was received as a review copy from Crossway
"This isn't the way my life was supposed to go! we cry. To which Solomon tells us with a shake of his head: this is exactly the way life goes. It's not our life that's gone off the rails but our expectations. We are the ones who got it wrong, who mistakenly thought the "bus of life" was headed on a garden tour instead of into a war zone."
The book of Ecclesiastes offers a guide for life that doesn't always turn out the way we expect. In this book, the authors lay out 14 lessons that can be learned from Ecclesiastes, helping readers see what it looks like to fear and obey God in the day-to-day. It is full of practical advice and encouragement applicable in every season of life. By examining the way life truly is, we can find the wisdom needed to endure life's hardships and enjoy life's pleasures to the fullest.
"It has been said," writes J.I. Packer, "that the Psalms teach us how to worship; Proverbs, how to behave; Job, how to suffer; Song of Solomon, how to love; and Ecclesiastes, how to live."
"How many breaths will we take in our lifetime? There's no way we can possibly plan or decide or know. Breath eludes us, as does all of life. In other words, life is incomprehensible and uncontrollable. It's beyond our ability to understand or manage. This is reality."
I have a lot of favorite verses from the book of Ecclesiastes, but this is my first time reading a book that dives deep into this book in the Bible and shares its practical wisdom for our day-to-day lives. The authors of this book helped readers fully understand the wisdom from Ecclesiastes that will help us to see life with the correct perspective and live our lives to the fullest. This book has 14 chapters that cover various themes in the book of Ecclesiastes and provide questions for further reflection throughout each chapter. Although this is my first time reading a book written by Carolyn & Nicole Mahaney, I enjoyed the writing style immediately from start to finish. Their writing is biblically rooted and the wisdom explored in this book is truly encouraging.
"What is the point of trying to control people and circumstances when your life is a mere breath? What is the point of gripping the wheel so tightly when it is not connected to the tires?"
"What confidence and comfort to know that not only is God in control of everything, he is controlling everything in such a way that makes it beautiful! Better than that, he already has made it beautiful. It is already done and dusted, determined and decided, a fait accompli."
In this review, I'd like to share several parts of this book that stood out to me and helped shift my paradigm about life. The first one comes from the chapter Life is Well-Timed which reminds us how we have no control over the seasons of the year or the times of our lives. I love how this section of the book points out the importance of understanding God's sovereignty and His providence that governs all things, including every little detail in our lives. This fact should give us confidence and comfort because we know that God controls everything and has made it beautiful according to His glorious purposes. At the moment, our circumstances might seem confusing or even hopeless to us, but it's helpful to know that there is a reason for every season in our lives, both good and bad. It feels freeing when we don't have to fret over our lack of control. Instead, we can simply receive and enjoy, work and rest, and truly trust in the sovereignty of our God.
The chapter Live Wisely also has a lot of mind-opening passages that I want to keep reminding myself of. One of the passages in this chapter that struck me says that we tend to overthink God's blessings, thinking that our prosperity or success is proof of God's pleasure in us. Another one mentions how we sometimes see days of prosperity as some kind of bad omens as a way to do better damage control. I have struggled a lot with this issue in the past that's why this chapter rebuked me hard. In the end, Solomon reminds us that since we cannot predict what tomorrow will bring, all that's left to do is to simply rejoice. Don't spend all our good and bad days in misery and worry. That's something I need to keep repeating to myself over and over.
"Being realistic about our lives and about the people in our lives is not always easy to do. This is why we need daily doses of realism from Ecclesiastes. We need to read this book regularly to remind ourselves what life and people are truly like and how to truly live. Living with an Ecclesiastes mindset will turn us into truly happy, hopeful realists."
The last one that I think is worth mentioning in this review will be the last chapter in this book, Live Fearfully. This chapter wraps up the book nicely because it emphasizes what we can do to acquire true life: to fear and obey God. Even though our lives on earth are just mere breath, a vanity, what we do with it still matters because of what God has done. The works that we do in the fear of God matters and it will endure for eternity. It encourages me to keep enjoying life, worship God when we do our chores, and trust God while we suffer instead of questioning or trying to control what will happen next.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and learned so much from it! The authors slowly open our eyes to the realities of life and guide us to become happy and hopeful realists that surrender control to God who is sovereign and appoints everything. Every single chapter was eye-opening and I appreciate the reflection questions provided throughout the book that helped me meditate on my way of life. It might not be easy but applying the practical wisdom from the book of Ecclesiastes will help us avoid bitterness or confusion due to our unrealistic expectations about life. This is a book that I'd want to re-read in the future just the remind me of its wisdom as I walk through various seasons of life and I highly recommend it to Christian women of any age 😊.
"Enjoy life. Worship God. Sing while you clean, laugh while you feast, listen while you worship, consider while you suffer. Fear and obey. This is the whole dangerous, delightful duty that we have been given here under the sun. So simple. So joyful. So glorious. True life awaits the woman who, by the power of the Holy Spirit, fears God and keeps his commandments."
by.stefaniesugia♥ .

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