December 21st, 2009
Wolfe, Paul D. My God is True! Lessons Learned Along Cancer’s Dark Road. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 2009. 150 pp. $15.00. Purchase at Westminster Books.
One might ask who Paul Wolfe is and why is he writing a book published by Banner of Truth. He certainly is not a name many are going to recognize right away, but I believe that will change with the publication of this book. Paul Wolfe, like so many others, is a cancer survivor. My God is True! is his journal of what he learned by the grace of God through his bout with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He currently serves as Associate Pastor of New Hope Presbyterian Church in Fairfax, VA.
Written as a three act play, Wolfe describes the discovery, treatment, and ultimate eradication of the cancer cells in his body. Coinciding with each “act” is a part of the book consisting of three chapters. The first chapter of each part is Paul’s progress in life–what he was experiencing at a particular time in his journey. The second chapter of each part consists of his own questions and how he wrestled with God at various times with God teaching him major life and theological lessons. The third chapter to each section is more like an exhortation to the reader to “learn from my ordeals” (my words not his).
His first lesson learned was the sovereignty of God and the accountability of man. He says he begins with this lesson because it was the sweetest lesson to learn. To know that his God brought about the cancer for His glory and Paul’s growth was a source of hope. Yes, he is aware that this is a hotly debated topic, but he puts it quite succinctly, “When it comes to cancer, our consideration of sovereignty cannot wait. The truth of God’s good and purposeful rule cannot be consigned to an appendix” (28).
The last lesson he shares as he reflects on his eleven month journey “along cancer’s dark road” is that of being heavenly-minded. He readily admits that this is difficult to do all of the time, but he also shows how God uses everything in your life to conform you into His Son, Jesus Christ, but to also cause your gaze to go heavenward. I share only these two lessons of the many lessons he shares because these are two lessons that most of us as Christians need to either be learned for ourselves or reminded of again.
I wrote in the front cover of the book that Paul writes of the gravity and weight of God’s glory found in cancer mixed with the humor of man. What I mean by that statement is that Paul Wolfe strips away the academic theology of God’s sovereignty, man’s accountability, God’s goodness, man’s sinfulness, etc, and applies it to real life. When you are told you have cancer (by the grace of God, at this point in my life, I cannot relate to those words), you need to know that God is sovereign over your cancer and that it is working for your good even though in your finite understanding that is tainted by sin you cannot begin to comprehend how that is possible.
I think Alistair Begg’s blurb on the back of the book best sums up the recommendation. He writes in part, “My search is over for the one book to give to someone battling cancer.” I believe every pastor, elder, and deacon ought to read this book and be conversant with the lessons learned by Paul Wolfe which are rooted in Scripture, in order to be better prepared to minister to those who have been diagnosed with or are currently going through treatment for cancer.