Recently I received A Grace Given for review written by Kent Gilges. This book was both a joy to read and hard to read. In it Kent Gilges who is the father of Elizabeth a child born with a brain tumor is told. This is truly a story of faith and profound grace. Often it reminded me of what C.S. Lewis had told to Sheldon Vanauken that the had received a severe mercy.
The book is written quite wonderfully and it is evident that the author is a talented writer able to relate a tragic story that becomes not so tragic through grace. The author came from a pretty much non-religious background and could be best described as a lapsed-agnostic. There was not a denial of God, but neither much acceptance of God in his life. His wife is Catholic and you can see his own journey in faith and his questioning throughout the book. While his trajectory towards the Catholic Church is evident in the book, it does not appear evident that he has yet joined the Church.
It is such a testament to grace that this couple in the struggle of acceptance of the reality of their daughter illness and the subsequent time caring for her that they never went through a period of doubting and blaming God. There is such beauty and acceptance in them and so much love for their daughter that this book is best read with a box of tissues nearby. You come to know and love their daughter yourself through her fathers’ eyes. Their praying for a miracle and going to Lourdes and receiving a private audience with Pope John Paul II are part of the story, but it is the miracles of grace that are most evident in this book.
The book is written as both a sequential retelling of the events as they occurred and with various stories and reflections throughout. This book deserves a wide audience as a testament to Elie and her parents love for her along with the effects of grace in their lives.