Jesus, Day By Day, by Sharon Kaselonis
[This book was provided free of charge by Multnomah/Waterbrook Press. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
My feelings about this book are deeply mixed. In general, I tend to have mixed thoughts about devotionals, which this book is, given that they tend to be somewhat superficial in their approach to scripture because they devote themselves to only a page or so of commentary for each day of the year (as is the case here), and that is simply not enough space to provide depth in many cases. As far as devotionals go, the theme of this one is a good one, in that the author finds Jesus all throughout the scriptures, pointing out (if it needs to be pointed out) that the entire Bible speaks about Jesus Christ in some fashion. By and large I consider that to be a worthwhile approach when it comes to looking at the Bible, for while there are certainly more layers than a focus on Jesus Christ Himself, it is unlikely that many Christians will even pay attention to verses in the Bible without having some understanding of how they relate to Jesus Christ in some fashion. So as far as the general premise of the book goes, I find this devotional a cut above most that I happen to read.
This book is almost 400 pages long, and most of it consists of daily devotionals organized throughout the Gregorian year (a non-leap year, there is no February 29th) in a chronological fashion, with the date and a short title on the top of every page, and then a quote from the day’s reading, and then a few short paragraphs that point out some aspect of the reading that relates to Christ. Sometimes at the bottom of the page, especially where there is material from multiple books that deals with the same subject matter, there are additional readings where, for example, the books of 1 and 2 Chronicles are pointed out as being an additional resource. Moreover, the devotionals themselves are framed with an introduction that points out the purposes of the book (which is fairly transparent given the title as well as approach of the book) as well as a selection of end notes that also provides additional information and sources for further reading).
That said, there is one aspect of this book’s chronological approach to a devotional that I find troubling. Sometimes in a book it is not so much what is said but what is not said that is potentially problematic, and that is the case here. There are some stories and chapters in the Bible that are clearly skipped–Psalm 88, for example, appears to be skipped, along with Genesis 36, on the genealogy of Edom. Likewise, one would search in vain for the story of the Levite’s concubine that closes the book of Judges. Even where problematic incidents are included in the reading, they are simply ignored in the commentary. To be sure, subjects like rape and depression are hardly very enjoyable to deal with, but plenty of people have to deal with them and it is of vital importance to know that Christ is in even the horrible aspects of our lives, which are part of what Paul promises in Romans 8 will work together for the good, even if they are not good at all themselves. It would have been nice for the author to have addressed some of the darker aspects of life that the Bible deals with to confront the sort of heavy issues that many believers have to wrestle with, and not doing so makes for a definite missed opportunity to show how Jesus Christ is with us and with others even in the darkest sort of times and the most horrible experiences.