I wanted to share with you my review of a brand new book written by a personal friend of mine from my local church here in the Spartanburg, South Carolina area named Dr. Gabe O’Sullivan. He’s an incredibly gifted chiropractor at Ivey-O’Sullivan Chiropractic who sincerely cares about helping his patients live a prescription drug-free, healthy lifestyle. But this book I’m going to be telling you about today doesn’t have anything at all to do with that.
Less than a decade ago, Gabe and his wife Ryanne were still a young couple desiring to have kids, build a family and live the life that so many people take for granted. But when complications arose with Ryanne’s first pregnancy, it quickly presented a challenge to their faith and trust in God to sustain them through a series of tragic events. While I realize this isn’t the typical kind of book review I share on this blog, I believe Gabe’s book will serve as an encouragement to others who may be going through their own personal crisis of faith. Knowing that others have gone through horrible circumstances and come out the other side stronger as a result is a message we all need to hear. ENJOY!
Full disclosure: I have personally known the author of this book as both a friend and spiritual example in my life for over a decade.
It’s almost become cliché for people who profess to be a Christian to utter that familiar Biblical phrase of trusting fully in God. But for a young Spartanburg, SC-based chiropractor named Dr. Gabriel “Gabe” O’Sullivan and his beautiful wife Ryanne, the spiritually mature concept of “thy will be done” took on an entirely new meaning for them not that long ago in a way that I’m sure neither them nor their families could have ever expected to happen. After all, this was the quintessential all-American Christian couple faithfully serving selflessly in their church and using their talents to carry on the work of the Lord in whatever capacity He called them to. And both of them had an earnest desire to pass on a lasting legacy of love as well as God’s love to the triplets Ryanne had become pregnant with as the first children in the O’Sullivan clan. Just how hard is it to follow the will of God when everything is as pristine and perfect as this?
But as you’ll read in this courageously written book Thy Will Be Done? (written from the perspective of one of the most godly men you will ever meet in your life), tragedy, heartache and pain quickly hit this couple—HARD! You’ll notice there’s a question mark at the end of the title of the book because there can be times when we question what God is doing and why he allows certain things to happen to His children within the scope of His will. The reality for many Christians is they are never really put in a situation that tests how genuine their faith is because quite frankly too many of us (myself included) become complacent and comfortable living our lives without truly listening to what God would have for them. For Gabe and Ryanne, the most intense faith test they had ever experienced began at the 24-week mark of Ryanne’s pregnancy with their triplets.
In page after page of one of the most heartbreaking stories you’ll ever read in your life, this gut-wrenching first-hand account of every emotion, thought, doubt, question, worry and sadness is a very real experience that these two incredible Christians were forced to endure. As someone who personally witnessed their faithfulness throughout this tragedy (and prayed for them constantly), I am in awe of what God has done in and through them in the years since. Watching what Gabe and Ryanne had to endure with the loss of all three of their triplet girls and to see them today should serve as an encouragement and example to other Christians who may be called upon to trust God in the midst of suffering, pain or loss. What they have demonstrated to me is that no matter what happens in this life we live here on Earth, our focus should continually be on following God’s will and not our own. Even if that means going through something that most people would see as a curse from God and not a blessing.
For anyone who has been shaken to the core in his walk with God, Thy Will Be Done? is a gentle reminder that you are not alone and that God fulfills His steadfast promise that He will never leave you nor forsake you in your time of need. Even if that means a little pain from time to time, there is a greater purpose and plan for everything that God allows happen in our lives. As Gabe so eloquently put it following the loss of their precious Sophia, “We were no longer the same two people who used to be confident in ourselves and our joyous lot in life as much as we were confident in him. We were now broken jars, poured out like water.” He added in what had to be some of the most difficult words written in this book, “What had we done wrong? After thinking about it, we realized that it was not necessarily anything we had done. As God’s creation he can do whatever he chooses with us. He does as he pleases to fulfill his purposes and bring himself glory. God’s plans will prevail.” Now that’s what you call faith that is real. When it matters most, these Christians chose to trust God regardless of the circumstances they found themselves in.
In fact, even before this book was written, my wife Christine and I have looked to the story of Gabe and Ryanne O’Sullivan as faith examples in recent years. After being married for over 10 years, we were hoping to have children of our own. But it wasn’t happening for us biologically because of my poor sperm quality and her poor egg quality. This double-whammy made it seem like we’d never have kids, but we were drawn into attempting an IVF cycle in 2007 and then an embryo adoption in 2011. The IVF failed to produce a pregnancy and it was an extremely difficult pill to swallow. Then when our embryo adoption resulted in a pregnancy but then ultimately ended in a miscarriage, we couldn’t stop thinking about how our friends Gabe and Ryanne has persevered, walked through the valley of the shadow of death and stood firm in their faith when most people would have turned their back on what God has allowed to happen. While we can’t imagine the pain that they went through with the loss of their triplets, we do somewhat have an idea of the void they felt from the separation of their hopes and dreams with the reality of what actually happened. Knowing their strength in the Lord was resolute in the midst of everything they endured helped my wife and I get through our own personal tragedy. I’m sure they had no idea of their direct impact on our lives which is all a part of God’s greater purpose and plan.
Strewn with Biblical references and parallel Scriptures about what happened to them throughout the book, Thy Will Be Done? is sure to be an encouragement to any Christian who may think God has chosen to smite or punish them in some way. If you ever think that, then I hearken you to remember the sad but ultimately uplifting story of Gabe and Ryanne O’Sullivan who were able to overcome some excruciating circumstances that would have otherwise ended in divorce or even suicide for people who lacked a solid faith in the Almighty Hand of God. Accepting the free gift of salvation that comes from Jesus Christ will not make your life a perfect bed of roses. But being in the center of God’s will is exactly where you need to be to experience everything the Lord has in store for you. That’s a central theme that resonates loud and clear throughout this book.
The good news is this story does have a happy ending: Gabe and Ryanne are now the proud parents of a beautiful biological daughter named Avery and an energetic baby boy they adopted in 2011 named Isaac. While the memory of their triplets as well as the loss of another child during a miscarriage in 2008 will always be with them, these days there is the blessing of those two healthy children and a couple that undoubtedly share a much deeper bond of love and admiration for one another than they even knew before. I highly recommend that you READ THIS BOOK and be encouraged in your faith that God will never give you more than you can handle. If you don’t believe me, then just ask Gabe and Ryanne O’Sullivan if that’s true or not.