Full disclosure: Arcadian House Publishing has sent me a free copy of this book to review.
Waiting for Eli is the story of a father, Chad Judice, and his wife, Ashley, who is pregnant with their second son who has spina bifida, a debilitating disorder which often causes the person with it to be paralyzed, develop water on the brain, etc., and many are miscarried during pregnancy. More distressingly, more than 50% of children given this diagnosis are aborted. This is a story of the journey that Eli's parents took through the entire pregnancy, preparing for Eli's birth and for his life with spina bifida.
Throughout the book, Chad, his friends, and the faculty and students at the high school he teaches at, St. Thomas More in Lafayette, New Orleans, continually prayed to God for a miracle. Believing that all things happen for a reason, Chad realizes that one of the miracles that God worked during this entire ordeal through Eli, short for Elijah, was bringing his students back, or closer, to God, many of whom had either given up on their faith or weren't taking it very seriously, through their corporate prayers to God.
A couple of things need to be said. First, Chad is very much Catholic and takes his Catholicism seriously. This is a book that atheists and agnostics probably won't get much out of, though I think it would be beneficial for Protestants to read, if they can overlook all the Catholic events.
Additionally, I am very skeptical about claims that people can heal, even through the Holy Spirit. I believe that God works miracles, but I am very skeptical about whether humans, in the modern era, are meant to work miracles. Yet he constantly speaks of a "healing priest" (especially throughout chapter 5) whom he saw to "heal" his son. But it is not within the scope of this review to discuss this view, I wanted to point it out so that I wouldn't be seen as endorsing this view.
I greatly appreciated the honesty that I found in the book (in the opening chapter Chad talked about answering a student's question regarding his greatest fear, which was having a child that was disabled, and at one point his wife admitted to briefly entertaining the thought of having an abortion). Reading this book can help give someone an idea of what it's like to go through this, to struggle with questions and your faith as you are going through a very difficult time.
Chad spoke of a miracle regarding Eli. To be honest, aside from the miracle I mentioned earlier, I'm not really sure what the miracle was that Eli was talking about. His son wasn't miraculously healed of the spina bifida, but perhaps he meant that his son's disability wasn't worse than it was when he was born (the hole in his spinal column was quite small, which surprised the doctors and nurses present).
The book is well-written and easy to get through. It shouldn't take you very long to read, but the story is compelling enough that you want to know what happens to Eli and his family considering that this is an autobiography from real people.
So I believe that the book is definitely worth reading, for the fact that we can read a first-hand account of how God strengthens his children through adversity. There are some elements that gave me pause, but for more Charismatic or Catholic believers it won't be an issue.
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