Qualifier: The following is not as much a review, as it is a plea for you to buy this book, read it, digest it and learn from it.
Walking Through Twilight – a memoir by Douglas Groothuis is not an easy book to read.
The dis-ease of reading it is not due to a Philosopher’s arcane or unique vocabulary, its length, nor the opacity which often attends attempts to describe or explain deep subjects. It is the uncomfortability of someone letting you touch their wounds. While they willingly (even if reluctantly) invite you to see just how raw and cruel the damage done to them has been, they nevertheless let you draw close enough to peer into their pain. And they do so to make suffering less ominous, less fear-inducing and less God-doubting. Nothing short of the glory of the resurrection will truly render it less mysterious.
This is the gift of Walking Through Twilight.
Groothuis is professor of philosophy at Denver Seminary. His and his wife Becky’s twilight, is their journey together with their God and friends as Becky’s particular brand of dementia (primary progressive aphasia) takes its mental, psychological, physical and spiritual toll. And it is brutal.
Page after page captured me as I listened to my brother in Christ lament well. Lamenting the degradation of his brilliant wife’s ability to access her words, wit, wisdom and skill. Lamenting the loss of the life they knew and enjoyed so much together – as it gave way to a life neither of them would ever have wanted or suspected. Grieving out loud without absolute despair, even when no hope in the natural remains, but only the promises of God’s Word. And he taught me well not to use that word only as minimalistic, but as an indicator of the singular hope we have in Christ.
Mind you, while this is a heavy book, it is far from depressing. It is filled with the author’s failures. And it is filled with countless road-signs pointing back to Calvary, as well as to the Blessed Hope to come.
The book serves as a living introduction to real-time suffering – something our current society (and many Christians) believe it is our birth-right to be free of. It reminds us powerfully of the reality of living in a fallen world. A world in which all of nature, including ourselves, will groan together for the relief which will only come when Jesus does.
Besides the running narrative of how Groothuis himself seeks the solace of Christ and His Word and promises, there is a short appendix of practical instruction for “comforters”. Those short suggestions are worth the price of the book alone.
But do not miss my meaning. The primary focus of this book is not as a “how to.” It is a book on “being”. What it means to be in the midst of the confusion and unexpected minefield of scattered demands, difficulties and unending complications of irreversible suffering. Most especially, to be in all of this, as a Christian.
No, Walking Through Twilight is not an easy book to read, but it is richly rewarding. It will encourage, strengthen, enlighten and inform everyone in their own suffering, or in ministering to others in theirs.
I cannot recommend it more highly as my own go-to in thinking about suffering in my own life, and in ministering to others in theirs.