Cancer, Grief, and God (Groves)

I’m nearly finished reading an excellent book that honestly walks through the suffering of cancer while resting in the hope of God.  It’s called Grief Undone and it was written by Elizabeth Groves whose husband, Alan, died from cancer in 2007.  As some of our readers may know, Alan Groves served in various departments at Westminster Theological Seminary.  This book is something like an autobiography (Elizabeth’s) and a biography (Alan’s) together in one, but ultimately it is a testimony of God, our only rock and refuge in time of storm.

I appreciate this book because it is a real-life account of dealing with cancer.  Having children of my own, I could totally relate to many stories Elizabeth told – the stress, the sweetness, and the bitterness involved.  Elizabeth didn’t just say everything was fine since her and Alan were Christians; she tackled the hard issues of pain, broken hearts, questions, uncertainty, and so forth.  Here’s one way Elizabeth put it:

“Daily and hourly we set our hope in the certainty of our Father’s love in the midst of uncertainty about what would happen to Al.  I don’t know that that was a measured, intellectual decision on our part as much as it was just the natural cry of desperate children who know their Father is the only one who has answers and help” (p. 18).

Or, as Alan said it before he died,

“It is not being healed from cancer in this life in which I ultimately hope.  Rather, it is in Christ now and forever that I find my hope.  I have been healed and raised in that ultimate sense by all that Christ has done.  Blessed be his name” (p. 43).

You can’t read this book without being moved.  Having lost friends and family to cancer,  I had to put the book down a few times because it squeezed tears from my eyes as I remembered the suffering of it all.  But in the midst of suffering there is hope that shines brightly through.  It’s not a false, flimsy, or “better place” type hope.  It’s the hope that Elizabeth leaned upon, that Alan rested in, and that all Christians can take comfort in.  It’s a “living hope” that we have through the resurrection of Jesus, a hope that we can hold fast to because “he who promised is faithful.”  It’s the hope of eternal life in Christ; the hope of a renewed, resurrected, and imperishable body; the hope of being with the Lord forever in the new creation where there will be no more tears.  This book testifies of that hope!

Elizabeth Groves, Grief Undone (Greensboro: New Growth Press, 2015).

Shane Lems

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