Review of My God Is True! Lessons Learned along Cancer’s Dark Road, by Paul D. Wolfe (Banner of Truth Trust, 2009
In 1999, Paul Wolfe, a newly married student at Westminster Theological Seminary, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Although his bout with cancer still continues to influence his life, it has not shattered his world. My God is True! Is not so much about the impact cancer has had on his life but about the way God used the disease to give Paul and his wife, Christy, a greater understanding of the sovereign God they serve.
A relatively small portion of the book is the chronology of the Rev. Wolfe’s experience. He divides it into three parts: symptoms and diagnosis, the experience of surgery and post-surgical treatments, and how his response to his cancer is reflected in subsequent events.
That leaves the lion’s share of the book for the lessons he has learned along the way. After his introduction in chapter two, Paul Wolfe’s next words are, “The Lord reigns!” He then continues by developing the idea that, although God is sovereign over his creation we, as Christians, need to consider a path for our own lives and make adjustments along the way as Providence directs.
The book does not contain merely long passages addressing doctrine. Wolfe inserts questions and objections raised by and to him, including: Where is God in this cancer? Has God promised healing? What does God promise? In addition, each chapter addresses the application of the doctrines therein explained. This gives the reader who thinks concretely a way to see how the doctrine, which was just previously explained, works.
In his chapter entitled “Heart Tests,” the author considers the prophet Habbakuk. The applications at the end of this chapter challenge the reader to do the same and refuse to be mired in a particular moment but rather envision the life of the Christian pilgrim under the sovereign care of his loving God.
One of the gifts Wolfe refers to regularly are the great hymns of the faith. The book’s title is itself a phrase from the hymn “What’er my God Ordains is Right.” Hymns were a comfort to the author during this journey that helped him keep focused on the God of all comfort instead of the trials that threatened to envelope him.
In my walk down the same road (with a different form of cancer) I learned that the victory is not so much in “beating” cancer but in recognizing it as a circumstance Satan can use to divert one’s gaze from our all-powerful Creator and Redeemer. And if Satan does that, the individual loses, whether he is cancer-free or not. My God is True! effectively articulates ways in which the author’s relationship with God grew as he was lead through his trying ordeal. Though you may never face the same diagnosis, lessons discussed in this book are applicable for the Christian in any dark valley.
Mrs. Susan Peters is President of the Women in the Church of Draper’s Valley Presbyterian Church, Draper, Va.