Shattered Prayers, The Testing of a Father’s Faith
By Kenneth Ching. Kirkdale Press, 2016
I read this newly released book in just a few hours. The title and subtitle capture the book, and were well chosen. It is a memoir – a compelling true story of the first several years of life with a special needs child. Ching has a straightforward writing style, and the book was easy to read because the writing flowed. He shared enough details to tell his story, but not too many as to encumber it. Ching is refreshingly real and honest, appropriately sharing his struggles, not sugarcoating his pain and doubt through it all.
Prenatal ultrasound revealed that all was well, but baby Joshua was born with multiple health challenges and was air lifted to another hospital. Just when things would seem to be improving, a new problem would develop. It turned out to be a rare genetic disease. Perhaps another reason this book was a quick read for me was that I was a nurse for 18 years – all the medical jargon was familiar. Not that you need medical background to understand the book – Ching and his wife are lawyers – and all the medical care their son required was totally new to them and ushered them into a whole new world.
I think Ching and I share a similar personality type, as I sure related to the way he analyzed, second guessed, worried, and thought about things. If I was in his situation, my mental processes would be about the same!
The book presents a solid biblical worldview – a robust Christian theology of suffering – but in an indirect way. Throughout the book, beginning on the very first page, there are brief thoughts that provide food for thought – hinting at – but ultimately presenting a realistic approach to life through the lens of eschatological Christian hope.
There is valuable insight about how to help such a family. Ching shares incidences where people meant well, but were actually not helpful or even made things worse with bad advice or pious platitudes. Sometimes pastors were the worst offenders. Several times he emphasized the importance of being a quiet presence – just be there. You don’t have to say much of anything! There was a church that dropped off meals – literally incognito. The meal would be left at the front door with no interaction from the person delivering it. And they deeply appreciated it. They were exhausted from care-giving and tired of having to explain the same things about their son over and over again.
I recommend this book to you, and I think it can be appreciated by a wide variety of people and is not limited to a particular reading audience. It is a compelling memoir, that shares the pain of shattered life expectations, but ultimately anchored in the hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ but without being “preachy” or contrived. Read it.