Flotsam and Jetsam

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Updates at 9:39 pm by Al

Well, the combination of travel, busyness and tiredness is a recipe for failure to blog. Let me correct my silence with scattered news.

HEALTH NEWS: Not much new to report. Mostly I feel fair to cruddy most days. My stomach doesn’t like anything, even water, although my taste buds still appreciate good food. Cramps and constipation have become my continual companions. (Sometimes I think I sound like some old geezer listing his ailments.) My next doctor’s visit is May 23, but no major tests prior to that visit. My next CT scan is mid-June. If I follow true to form with others in the same experiment, these tests should show tumor shrinkage. However, at some point, in the undetermined future, the tumors will begin to grow, and there will be little that can be done. (Éowyn is writing a paper on melanoma for her biology class and taught us this term that she ran across: PFS. It stands for Progression-Free Survival, which is the period of life- extension between the beginning of the treatment and the point at which the tumors begin to actively grow again. We’re grateful that so many are praying for lots of it!) My feet burn, but not so seriously that I cannot function. I must be careful to get off my feet regularly, and that helps reduce the problems. I am able to exercise to a certain extent, for which I am most grateful!

LIFE’S-LITTLE-JOYS NEWS: I was able to teach for two days at the end of the semester (May 4-5). You cannot know how thankful I was to be there to do it and to be relatively able to do it! An answer to prayer. (I had to prepare for those lectures because I did something new this year, and that is one reason I didn’t keep up with the blogsite in that period.) My next younger brother (Warren) came from California for 36 hours to visit. A real shot in the arm. Shared life experience is special medicine—a word and a simple gesture was enough to remind us of hilarious moments from our childhood, and we laughed till we wept all over again! Had a very nice retreat in Cleveland with some Christian friends from college. Our son Alasdair (who went with me to Cleveland) and his wife Lauren were here a couple of weeks ago to look for a house. They found one in East Mount Airy about 15 minutes from here. They move in July and will begin seminary in September. Rebeckah is also moving back to this area after her graduation in June. It will be wonderful to have them all nearby again! We have had a number of other visitors (too numerous to list) from all over—including a visit today from some dear friends who now reside in Jerusalem.

STATE-of-the-SOUL NEWS: We have settled into the middle part of the race. Most days now seem ordinary. We can sometimes almost forget that cancer is there lurking somewhere. Cancer has not meant that the Lord has let up on me in the pruning process. I am finding that the Lord continues to deal with my heart issues—unkindness, believing less than the best, etc. The good news is that God leads me into repentance. It’s just that I seem to need to be repenting all the time these days! I have been reading the psalms most mornings. God uses them to speak to my soul and keep me sane. It is my intention to begin to post some of the fruit of this meditation on the blogsite.

Our friends Charles and Ann Clayton reminded us today that the most important thing for people who are suffering to know is that they are loved. We certainly know that we are loved—by God and by you all. How blessed we are. That we are given the gift of seeing this more clearly is worth the present suffering.

To conclude, some reflections on Nehemiah 9 from the lectures I gave at the end of the semester:

Nehemiah, who led Israel during the return from Exile in Babylon, prayed a most amazing prayer in the ninth chapter of the book of Nehemiah. After all that Israel had experienced in Exile and during a period when the rebuilding of Jerusalem hardly resembled the glory of Zion which Isaiah had spoken about, he remembered and praised God as an awesome God who created all things and who redeemed his people according to his covenant promise. He rehearsed Israel’s history in his prayer—their covenant unfaithfulness and God’s covenant faithfulness. He accented and repeatedly mentioned God’s COMPASSION! Nehemiah had seen judgment and oppression. He continued to see problems in the community of faith. Yet, he extolled God’s compassion, even when Israel behaved in the most depraved of ways towards him. He came to the end of his prayer crying out to the Lord, the Lord who had in compassion heard the groans of his people many times before. He cried out to say that God’s people had become slaves in their own land—the miracle of deliverance from slavery in Egypt to settle the land of Canaan, and now this. His final word in the prayer: “We are in distress.” A plea for help. There was still sin in the midst of the people. The reason for God to judge yet again was as great as it ever had been. And God answered the prayer with the greatest expression of compassion ever, although not in Nehemiah’s lifetime. He sent a deliverer who dealt with the sin in the midst of his people, a deliverer who dealt with the real enemies: sin and death caused by that sin. In Christ, we see the answer to Nehemiah’s prayer. No more threat of judgment because Christ has been judged in our place. How God has answered Nehemiah’s prayer! But not in the way or timeframe in which he had almost certainly hoped.

I am in distress. But that is not the final word in my prayer. I live on the other side of the cross and the resurrection, that toward which Nehemiah looked from a distance. For me the final word is not distress, but hope in the one who has raised me from the dead and changed me into a new creature in Christ.


  1. Sung June Sean Kim said,

    May 15, 2006 at 10:57 pm

    Prof Groves

    I don’t know if you remember me but I took Hebrew lessons from you in NY back in 98. And took OTHT II in 2003 at Phillie campus. I am most grateful for your teaching and gracious character. I wish you the best in this harsh circumstances and I am praying that even in this trial that we may offer thanksgiving to God. May your health get better real soon and thanks for your transparent sharing.

    Love, Sean Kim from NY

  2. Meredith said,

    May 16, 2006 at 6:00 pm

    Dear Al,
    You must get tired of hearing it, I suppose, but this post today… you will never know how much it has helped me. God does hear prayers, even ones as simple as ‘I am in distress’ and he does see our faithfulness in the little things, even when no one else does, and he gives us compassion we do not deserve. My crucible is different from yours, but in God’s perfect hands, it is sharp to prune, a scalpel and not a pickaxe. Thank you for the timely reminder that distress is not the last word.

  3. Chi-Yin & Chin-Fei Hsu said,

    May 16, 2006 at 8:25 pm

    Dear Professor Groves,
    Thank you for sharing your health, joy, soul, and prayer of Nehemiah with us. We not only learn your progress report, which is always at our hearts of prayers, we learn the ture character behind these words. It constantly reminds us who we are ultimately in eternity and in God’s eye. It has been too many sorrows lately, and when we come to the blog to pray for you, we are always being ministered to. It seems so paradoxical, but it is true. I had a great time speaking with Warren and recognized how similar you two are. I am encouraged by his ministry, blessed by knowing a godly family in service of His Kingdom. We love you and stand by in prayers with you and your family. Chi-Yin & Chin-Fei Hsu

  4. Devlin said,

    May 16, 2006 at 9:37 pm

    love you bro
    thank you for your faithfulness to Christ

  5. Justin D. said,

    May 17, 2006 at 9:19 am

    Thank you very much for the update. You’re in our prayers.

  6. Mark Traphagen said,

    May 18, 2006 at 6:59 am


    It was so good to run across you on campus yesterday. Thanks for rolling down the van window and saying hi (even though to do so this time of year at WTS risks getting a frisbee in the face!).

    As one who had the privilege of sitting under your final lectures on Nehemiah 9, let me tell you that they had a profound impact on many of us. First off, it was interesting to see a last-week-of-the-semester classroom packed out when the students knew the exam had already been written and thus nothing said would be of “on-the-exam” importance. Yet it appeared that every student was in attendance those two days. Second, there were the lectures themselves. It is often said that the prophets were “God’s sermon illustrations,” having been called often to live out the message they were delivering. In that sense, I think we all knew that the lectures you gave were “prophetic.” Godspeed, my friend and teacher.

  7. Allie Stryd said,

    May 18, 2006 at 2:14 pm

    I’m curious, were they taped? I’d love to hear them.
    You are a teacher to us all, Professor.
    We press on in prayer for you, Al.
    Much, much love.

  8. Jennifer White said,

    May 18, 2006 at 9:47 pm

    I’m with Allie! I’d love to sit under your tutiledge (ap?) again via a recording. Mini-church seems like eons ago. Hug Libby for me. I love that woman. Godspeed, Jen

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