US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Embraced by God: Facing Chemotherapy with Faith

By Deacon Bruce Burk | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
Embraced by God: Facing Chemotherapy with Faith by Steve Givens (Twenty-third Publications, 2010)

I have never physically met Steve Givens but we have been friends for the past eight years. I am always awakened by his daily reflections in Living Faith, so one day I sent him an e-mail and we have corresponded ever since.

I must confess I had a pre-conceived idea when I picked up his latest book, Embraced by God, Facing Chemotherapy With Faith. I need not read this book, since, except for a few maintenance items which come with age, I enjoy good health. But as I read it, I once again became aware of my own silliness--my lack of accepting the Holy Spirit and her knowing what I need and what is best for me.

Steve's book is a book about faith and how a person who is ill or finds him or her self with an unexpected illness travels the unexpected turns in one's life. It is a book I have needed for some time. With it, perhaps when my father had heart failure and tension developed between us, we would have used different methods to deal with our fears and anxieties. Or when my seemingly, perfectly healthy wife was diagnosed with Sarcoidosis, or my three-year-old grand-daughter was diagnosed with "Frequent Fever Syndrome," I would have had more spiritual tools to work with if the book was available then.

I was surprised to learn that Steve had Langerhan's Cell histiocytosis, but I was not surprised that it was another disease that I had never heard of. Just like my wife and grand-daughter, Steve's disease is considered an "orphan disease"--as so few have them, the research and treatments are limited.

As I read Embraced by God (in fact, I could not put this one down), I realized it is a book for all of us. We all have a disease or two: the illness of being lazy, the sickness of not helping our neighbor, or the disease of not listening to the Holy Spirit and acting like Jesus would act.

Steve's book is a series of daily reflections--not to be consumed too fast, but to be simmered and tasted many times. Let this book consume you, filter through you, and fill you with the reminders of what we believe and how life is much easier when we accept being embraced by God. 

It is a book we all need to read more than once, and it is a book that will make our travels with Jesus easier, and more fruitful. I will use the "five things," the "self-question," and the "last time" at the end of each chapter frequently. They are great road signs for my tool box that will help me empty ourselves in order to make room for God in the ordinary of our lives.

A final thing that did not surprise me about this book was Steve Givens's gentle way of presenting himself. His matter-of-fact style, along with his openness to his faith, is what sparked me to write that email many years ago, and he remains true to it in this gem of a book.