“A Severe Mercy” was gifted to me by a dear friend last summer. It sat on my nightstand for a year before I cracked open its pages. I wish I could tell you that I should’ve read it sooner, but I believe in God’s timing. Last summer I was dealing with the dying and death of a loved one, a theme of “A Severe Mercy.” I believe God kept that book on my nightstand until my heart was ready to read the truths within its pages.
“A Severe Mercy” is a non-fiction, autobiographical novel. It tells the story of the author and the love of his life: how they met, fell in love and married, and their journey to Christ. C.S. Lewis played a large role in the author’s salvation, as he was studying at Oxford during the time Lewis taught at the university. Eighteen original C.S. Lewis letters are printed in the books pages.
The book details the authors jealousy in realizing his wife’s primary love is no longer himself, but God. After his wife’s untimely death, the author beings his exploration into grief, “to find the meaning of it, taste the whole of it … to learn from sorrow whatever it had to teach.” This journey spoke to my heart as one who has also lost a beloved one. Through the author’s contemplations, he comes to discover the meaning of “a mercy as severe as death, a severity as merciful as love.”
This novel was a “spiritual autobiography of a love rather than of the lovers.” It was beautiful to reflect back on those moments after my Dad left this world and realizing that God’s love held me the entire time. There was a reason the book sat on my nightstand for a year, God was preparing my heart to learn about his “severe mercy.”