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A New Day

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Posted by Tom Watts, 19 Oct 2018

Tom Watts reviews Emma Scrivener's book, "A New Day" for the latest edition of Churchman.

A NEW DAY: Moving on from Hunger, Anxiety, Control, Shame, Anger and Despair
Emma Scrivener
London: IVP, 2017 198pp £8.99pb ISBN: 9781783594412

In a previous book, author and blogger Emma Scrivener related her personal experience of struggling with anorexia and what it means to trust Christ in the face of that. Having found that her openness on this issue caused others to open up to her about different personal struggles, in A New Day she now broadens the focus to a wide range of issues faced by both Christians and non-Christians. These struggles are not the preserve of a hapless and weak minority among an otherwise healthy and strong majority; she shows how the problems she addresses began with Adam and Eve in the garden and thus are problems faced by all human beings to different degrees.

In a world of therapies that focus on self-esteem and encourage us not to be so hard on ourselves, Scrivener’s focus on sin as the heart of our problems is certainly counter-cultural. She has a very helpful discussion of the distinction between sickness and sin, showing how all our struggles involve both choices and chains. Yet she does not stop there. She uses the metaphor of a day moving from darkness to light to show how the path back to walking in the light with God must go through the darkening evening of acknowledging our sin and brokenness. At midnight we find our saviour who meets us in our deepest darkness at the cross. In the early hours we are given new hope as he rises and sends the Holy Spirit and gives us a new family in the church. At dawn we put on our new self and take our first steps in a new identity and life. In the morning we find our old struggles have not yet gone away but we have new grace in Christ each day to meet them with. In the afternoon we begin to take the life we’ve been given and share it with others who struggle. And as the new day continues we realise that in the future the darkness will finally end for good and be replaced with everlasting light in the presence of Jesus. This is a book to give to any person, Christian or not, who is dealing with what seem like insurmountable struggles of whatever sort. It will also equip pastors to bring the gospel to bear on real life. Scrivener combines deep biblical wisdom and reflection with practical advice and experience, including how and when to involve doctors and other professionals in particular issues such as depression, anxiety, self-harm, eating disorders and OCD. There are some hugely helpful images and illustrations peppered throughout that get straight to the heart of the issues we face; one example is the idea of how we tend to face life with either “sicknotes” (making excuses that allow us to bow out) or “strategies” (determining to face all our problems head on in our own strength). Neither will do: what we need is a saviour. You wouldn’t expect a book about brokenness to be beautiful, but that is exactly what this is.

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Tom Watts is Senior Minister of St John's, Downshire Hill

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