Expecting grace in the midst of life’s hard
by Kara Tippetts
2014 / 189 pages
In this part biography, part devotional Kara wants us to understand it was not in spite of her long battle with cancer, but because of it and through it, that God showed his goodness to her. She writes of how her life hasn’t always been pretty – full of surgeries, and chemo, and hair loss, and scars, and medical tests, and radiation – but God has ensured it was beautiful.
This is a must-read for everyone – I’d recommend it to young and old, married or not, men and women. Whether you are near death or far from it, there is but one end for us all – death is the final enemy, but before it comes there is the loss of strength and loss of ability, loss of friends, and loss of family. It is easy to trust God when the going is good, but what of when we have to ask, “Who is our only comfort in death?”
At one point Kara shares how, as one of her daughters was being tucked into bed, the girl asked her father, “Is Mama going to die of cancer or old age?” Kara’s husband couldn’t find the strength to say the words and asked Kara for help. So Kara padded down the hall and slipped under the covers with her daughter.
She wasn’t asking for false hope; she wanted me to love her with honesty. I told her I had heard her question, and I asked her my own question in response. I asked her if she believed God would meet her in both of those places. I looked at her face and wondered at her love, her beauty, her tenderness and I asked her a question many grown people cannot answer or embrace. In the most painful fear and hurts of our lives, will God be good? Not just the simple: God is good, indeed always good. Not the rote, recited, memorized answers we have been trained to give in the edges of life. But the asking: Is Jesus really good in the awful of cancer, fire, heartbreak, and devastation? In the face of all that is broken, is God good?
We all know the answer, but it is one thing to know the answer and another to believe it when the going is not good. This is why I loved this book: Kara praises God for his goodness, and all that He provided her, and she also acknowledges her own weakness and doubt. She asks,
How do you speak to your young child of grace you struggle to have the imagination to behold? You just do. It’s the raw places of faith without sight. It’s the painful moments of preaching a sermon to yourself you know you struggle to believe. It’s the quiet prayer from Mark: “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24).
That is what we are all struggling with: we trust God in the good times; help us trust You in the bad! Kara is wonderfully encouraging in showing how she came to understand that God is faithful, even in the bad, and even in her doubts. He is good, and He can be trusted.
Several months after finishing the book, on March 22, 2015, Kara Tippetts died and went to be with the Lord.
If you loved the book, you’ll also want to see the documentary, The Long Goodbye: The Kara Tippetts Story which we review here.