The Ben Ripple

Lisa Elliott
Word Alive Press
Paper 190 pages

“…have you ever given thought to the fact that there’s no word to define a grieving parent? Someone who has lost parents is called an ‘orphan.’ Those who have lost spouses are called ‘widows’ or ‘widowers.’ But there’s no word for someone who has lost a child.”

Lisa Elliott called this statement “an aside” to her story, but I think it’s on point. Death is inevitable, natural; but there is something about the death of a child that just doesn’t seem right. I suppose that is why no one has come up with a word to describe those who have lost one.

In The Ben Ripple, Lisa traces her journey from the point at which her 18-year-old son, Ben, is diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia to his death just over a year later. Then she takes us through that first critical year of grieving Ben’s loss.

Her own personal journal entries, memories, as well as the posts on her FACEBOOK blog, dedicated to keeping Ben’s prayer supporters informed, take the reader step by step, honestly, transparently, through those terrible but triumphant twenty-four months. 

But it is that transparency which provides for the reader the most hope and encouragement. There is no plaster saint here, only a real woman with real feelings and real faith.

We get a glimpse of the impact, the “ripple” caused by Ben’s journey in a chapter dedicated to some of the many letters and posts that people from around the world shared. Before Ben’s death, Lisa had posted on the prayer blog: “All along, I have sensed that this situation with Ben is much bigger than Ben and our family. Somehow this has all been about God’s glory. Already God has been incredibly glorified, as many have been impacted by Ben’s story around the world. If Ben ultimately dies, only eternity will reveal the countless lives that have been touched and changed because of his journey. We believe that there will be people in heaven because of his suffering.”  She was right.

Scattered throughout the book are insights that can help all of us when facing illness and death. From tips for those who want to help, or comfort, to ideas on how family members can help each other face the death of a loved one, these insights make The Ben Ripple a valuable teaching tool.

Ten days before Ben passed into the presence of the Lord, he stood before the congregation of his father’s church to thank them for their prayers and to encourage them. As part of that message, Ben said: “I’ve learned this past year that it is possible to suffer and go through terrible circumstances with a smile on your face and not have to ask the question ‘Why me?’ God’s plan is bigger than all of us. His plans always work out perfectly, according to His will. So why should we waste our time asking ‘why’ when instead we can sit back and just say ‘Wow!’?”

Bring a box of tissues with you when you sit down to read the book. But be assured that the tears of sympathy and sorrow will be tempered with tears of joy and a lot of “Wow!”

Lisa has been a pastor’s wife for twenty-five years, a popular inspirational speaker for twenty years, and is the mother of four children. Currently David and Lisa live in Stratford, ON and minister at Memorial Baptist Church, Stratford.

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