I encountered this sobering situation in The Hardest Peace by Kara Tippetts. It’s a surprising story that tells of her encounter with stage IV cancer. In the introduction, she wrote, “I realize I may not be here when these pages are bound.” This simple and straight-forward acknowledgement, filled with honesty, startled me and made me pause anew to approach Tippets’ words in a different way. These were no longer just flippant words about grace during trials—no, this book became an honest approach to grace, knowing that real, heartbreaking hardships exist.
In reality, according to God’s good plan, she did live to see the book published, which was October 2014; however, less than a month ago, on March 22, 2015, she did pass away.
Kara Tippetts’ book became, for me, her last words that she wanted to pass on to those struggling in various ways. In artful prose, she reflected upon her life and showed how it, full of hardships including much more than just cancer, was the beautiful story that God had written for her. She explained that God is the Author of her life, and one by one she goes through the hurts, the hard as she calls it, and described how she came to trust in God and believe in His goodness, relying fully upon Him through everything. She showed how God is strong when she is not. Kara Tippetts gracefully and calmly explained how she and her husband and their children understood God’s grace and goodness in everything.
The book also includes three letters at the end: a letter from Kara to Jason, a letter from Kara to her “littles,” and a letter from her husband Jason to us, the readers. And perhaps, this is the most poignant aspect of this book: she was close to death and knew it, but she allowed us, the readers, to see her letters to her family—it gave me yet another glimpse into her heart and her deepest feelings. When she wrote to her littles, explaining that she didn’t want to stop recalling and hoping, I didn’t want to see the letter end, because the end meant there were no more words from Kara to her children. And then her husband writes to the reader, and for the first time, we hear solely someone else’s voice and take on the situation. Even in the midst of these heartbreaking letters, the readers get a glimpse of God’s grace, which the Tippetts clung to and experienced.
The Hardest Peace shows that though life rarely goes as planned, we can all take great encouragement, knowing that God, the great Author of our stories, is working all things together for good for all those who trust in Him.
Read this book. Some of it will make you smile, while others will undoubtedly bring tears. Kara Tippetts beautiful prose and powerful story-telling will engage you.
And, if you want to know more about Kara Tippetts and read her past writings, visit her blog mundanefaithfulness.com.
I also just learned of another book that she wrote with Jill Buteyn that will be published in October 2015. I look forward to reading Just Show Up: The Dance of Walking Through Suffering Together when it is released.