I write during the coronavirus pandemic, day two of self-isolation after one of the family came down with a cough. I’m nearly certain that it’s just a cold, for this person gets lots of them. But we’re following the guidelines and staying home. I’m sad that my trip to the States in early May has been cancelled, like so very many trips and other events. I’m aware that being cooped up at home and having a journey delayed are small things compared with those who have compromised immune systems or who have lost loved ones. But any grief is yet grief, and we should allow ourselves to lament before God.  

How to live and thrive amid the challenges we face is the theme of Cathy Madavan’s latest book, Irrepressible – a fitting book to feature during this time of crisis. She offers twelve principles for building “courageous, resilient, and fulfilling lives that make a difference”. She defines being irrepressible as “uncontained, unrestrained, and incapable of being repressed”. She knows that in life we’ll face not only joys but challenges too, often at the same time. Her principles will help you to develop a robust character as you work through both the hard things but the wonderful things too. Didn’t I say this book’s release was timely? 

What I like best about Irrepressible is how it feels like Cathy is with you as a mentor, cheering you on, not only with encouragement but speaking truth. True confessions, I know Cathy, which means I can confirm that her irrepressible voice comes through on the page just as it does in real life. Her stories of the challenges she’s faced are compelling, including how her husband’s rapidly diminishing eyesight has affected their family.  

Cathy has written the book in an outward-facing manner. That is, she’s written so that Christians will think and pray about the people who aren’t Christians that they could give this book to. I’m glad that Cathy doesn’t hide her faith in the book – I’ve criticised that approach more than once over the years. But she takes a gentle tone as she points to the foundation of God for her life and beliefs.  

If during these uncertain times you’d like to delve more deeply into the life of Jesus, two books I’ve been reading lately are somewhat scholarly in nature but have enriched my faith. One has been around for some years: Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes by Kenneth E. Bailey (SPCK, 2008). Spending 40 years living in the Middle East, teaching the New Testament informs his writing. The other is The Seven Prayers of Jesus by Laszlo Gallusz (IVP, 2017), which brings together loads of scholarship on Jesus’ seven prayers in the Bible.  

Stay well!