One year anniversay, January 16

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Reflections at 8:47 am by Al

A year ago on January 16, 2006, Martin Luther King Day, we learned that there was a suspicious growth in my lung which had showed up in an annual chest X-Ray (the X-Ray was a routine, precautionary follow-up to monitor possible—though not expected—spread of cancer to the rest of my body after I had had a melanoma lesion removed from my shoulder in 2004). After a month of doctors’ appointments and tests, the diagnosis was melanoma metastasis to my lungs (and later, ultimately, to my brain.) Medically incurable. I was told that I had a year or so to live.

Needless to say, this was hard-hitting news. We have grieved, but always with hope in the resurrection we have through faith in Christ. While we would not have chosen it this way, we have seen God’s goodness, nearness, steadfast love, and faithfulness in unprecedented fashion. We have rested in the reality that he is absolutely in control and he is good.

We have seen the goodness of the Lord through so many of you—those at a distance encouraging us to see the Lord and praying for us. Many nearby have helped us in all manner of ways—meals, household projects, wonderful gifts. As you have shown us this love, you have all been the hands and feet of Jesus to us. We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of kindness.

At the risk of repeating things I’ve said in the past, I want to reflect on a couple of things.

First, God has continued to be a father to me. He still ferrets out the issues in my heart and leads me in repentance. The need for sanctification never ends; difficult circumstances have not given me a free pass. My failure to respond well to people or to reach out to others has been particularly an area in which I have been challenged. As painful as this kind of “heart” surgery can be, I am reminded each time he puts his finger on something that he is there and is ever loving me. It may seem strange to some, but he shows his fatherly love and concern by continuing to love me through discipline (Heb 12:5-6).

Secondly, as I already mentioned, we have peace and hope afresh in the resurrection, and we are learning about grieving with hope.

Thirdly, walking through the valley of the shadow of death, we are not alone. We walk with one who has walked it already and has emerged alive on the other end, who leads us through that valley, and who will lead out to life all who trust him.
We have had wonderful care, which we see as part of God’s providential hand in sustaining us. God alone heals. He does so in many ways. Sometimes his purposes are best served as we put off the perishable and put on the imperishable. The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be his name.

It has been a year of looking to him and seeing him draw near.

Psalm 138:8
The Lord will accomplish his purpose for me.
Your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.
Do not forsake the work of your hands.

Blessings, Al


  1. Larry Knowles said,

    January 16, 2007 at 10:38 am

    Brother Al:

    I didn’t come to learn of your situation until the latter half of last year, but I’ve followed your and Libby’s blogs since. The things you’ve shared prove the dictum that the glory of Christ shines most brightly against a dark backdrop.

    I haven’t seen you since leaving WTS in ’83 but we remember you fondly and continue to pray for “grace sufficient” for you and your family. Praise God for the year you’ve been given and for the days He still will grant.

    Bless you, dear friends.

    Vernon, VT

  2. lisa hildebrand said,

    January 16, 2007 at 4:18 pm

    Hey Al,Libbie and family. Good to have read your latest addition to your blog. I rejoice that your hearts are well. Your an inspiration to me and many others, as always. Thank you and lots of love!!

  3. Dennis Reidenbach said,

    January 16, 2007 at 11:12 pm

    Dear Al and Libbie,

    I just wanted you to know that we read your blog entry at Mini-Church tonight. Your insights and sharing were very much appreciated by all of us. We also want you to know that we prayed for you as a group tonight.

    Dennis Reidenbach for the Ardsley Mini-Church

  4. John Oliff said,

    January 17, 2007 at 6:55 am

    Thanks for sharing! I check the blog everyday and we have continued to pray for you as you journey. It is good to know we are not alone as we journey through the wilderness.

    The Grace of the Lord Jesus be with your spirit.
    Psalm 22 and 23 (I have come to think these cannot be read apart from each other)

    John Oliff

    PS If there is anything I/we can do please call, we are rather close.
    610-331-2856 cell

  5. Will Reinmuth said,

    January 18, 2007 at 10:54 am

    Al & Libbie,

    God brought you both to my heart this morning as I read devotionally in Hebrews 4, and was moved to draw near, with confidence, to the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace to help in this time of need. Your honest words and resilient faith are a beacon of God’s “hesed” to His people, and I want to thank you for loving us all enough to let us into your struggle. It is with much appreciation that I labor with you all in prayer.

    In His hands,
    Will Reinmuth
    WTS ’06

  6. Mitchell Green said,

    January 18, 2007 at 1:47 pm

    Hello Once Again Mr. Groves,
    A couple of weeks ago, in a telephone interview with Gordon College, I was faced with a bunch of questions regarding my faith and how Christ is leading my life. One of the questions was “If there was one person’s faith that you admire, who’s would it be and why?” My immediate thought was of you! I went onto explain your situation and how the Lord in strengthening your faith. I want you to know how much of an encouragement you are to me. When I see you in Church or talk about you with my Dad your constant faith in the hope of Christ’s goodness and sovereignty awes me. Thank you for being an example to us all. Our Wednesday Morning Prayer Group here at Cheltenham H.S. has been and will continue to pray for you and the rest of the family every week.
    Praise the Lord for your life and his death for us!

    Thanks Again,
    Mitchell Green

  7. Renée Jaeschke said,

    January 19, 2007 at 3:30 am

    Hi Libbie and Al,

    We are the dot on the map in Germany. We have been following the blog for a short while, ever since we heard of your illness, Al. “The Lord gives, the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord” is one of my favorite verses. The Christian singer Honeytree has written a somber, but soothing melody for the words which go through my mind from time to time. In all honesty I have not yet “arrived” at a level of spiritual maturity to be able to say those words from my heart without reservation!
    From time to time I ponder over a prayer written by Ruth Myers (31 Days of Praise, pp. 151-152). It is longish, but I wanted to share it with you…It is entitled “Your Most Basic Act of Worship”…again I have not “arrived” there yet…but it is a great challenge and comfort whenever I read through it:
    “Lord, I’m Yours. Whatever the cost may be, may Your will be done in my life. I realize I’m not here on earth to do my own thing, or to seek my own fulfillment or my own glory. I’m not here to indulge my desires, to increase my possessions, to impress people, to be popular, to prove I’m somebody important, or to promote myself. I’m not here even to be relevant or successful by human standards. I’m here toi please You.

    I offer myself to You, for You are worthy. All that I am or hope to be, I owe to You. I’m Yours by creation, and every day I receive from You life and breath and all things. And I’m Yours because You bought me, and the price You paid was the precious blood of Christ. You alone, the Triune God, are worthy to be my Lord and Master. I yield to You, my gracious and glorious heavenly Father; to the Lord Jesus who loved me and gave Himself for me; to the Holy Spirit and His gracious influence and empowering.
    All that I am and all that I have I give to You.
    I give You any rebellion in me, which resists doing Your will. I give You my pride and self-dependence, which tell me I can do Your will in my own power if I try hard enough. I give You my fears, which tell me I’ll never be be able to do Your will in some areas of life. I consent to let You energize me…to create within me, moment by moment, both the desire and the power to do Your will.
    I give You my body and each of its members…my entire inner being: my mind, my emotional life, my will…my loved ones…my marriage (or my hopes for marriage)…my abilities and gifts…my strengths and weakness…my health…my status (high or low)…my possessions….my past, my present, and my future…when and how I’ll go Home.
    I’m here to love You, to obey You, to glorify You. O my Beloved, may I be a joy to You!”

    May God continue to carry you through…each step of the way.
    In Christ, Renée (Wolf Christian is travelling at present…but I am sure that he would want to send his love as well.)

  8. Michael & Denise Brokenborough said,

    January 25, 2007 at 11:57 pm

    Al and Libbi

    I just found out today from Lou Decaro that you were ill. He informed me that i could get an update on your blog. My brother and sister you will be in our prayers and I will have our intercessors at church praying for you as well. You were on my mind a few days ago because i am thinking about writing a book on racial reconcilliation and some of my own personal expreiences. I remembered your love to me as I was gint through my struggle at Westminister. I’ll never forget how our loving Father used you to demonstrate His love to me. It was such a pivotal time for me. Denise is doing fine and our children are doing fine and we also have three grandchildren. We love you guys and I hope to stay in touch. We are still living in Ardmore. I still have a jump shot but there is not much jump in it. Be bless and stay encouraged.

Leave a Comment