Waiting for Good News:
Living with Chronic and Serious Illness

Minneapolis: FortressPress, 2018

Sally Wilke gets it. She has lived with and through the serious chronic illness of someone she cared deeply about. And she has provided pastoral care to individuals and families in similar situations. Waiting for Good News captures her hard-won, helpful, and hope-filled wisdom.

Wilke organizes this book around seven questions that those who face serious illness often ask. From “What Is the Diagnosis” to “Where Do I Find More Help?” she accompanies readers on their own journey.

The heart of the book is the stories–Wilke’s own, those of others who have struggled with severe illness, and accounts from the Bible. Here, readers will find strength, support, and a way forward in a difficult situation.

As practical as she is wise, Wilke offers tools, tips, ideas, and resources for reflection and for obtaining additional support. Chapters conclude with questions that may be used for personal reflection and discussion with family members, patients, and support groups.

Clergy, other pastoral-care providers, and family and friends of those who struggle with serious illness will find examples and helpful practices to guide their efforts as they partner with those seeking to find their way.

“In Waiting for Good News, Sally L. Wilke gathers together the stories and experiences of caregivers facing chronic illnesses of loved ones–children, husbands, fathers, mothers, and friends. Each chapter focuses on specific interdependent issues in caregiving: diagnosis, what caregivers feel and experience, the challenges caregivers and patients face, a parent’s response to a chronically ill child, issues of control and what needs to be done, and where caregivers can find help. An excellent and important book that needs to be in the libraries every pastor, healthcare giver, or person facing a chronic illness and their care givers.”

— Dr. Paul O. Ingram, Professor Emeritus of Religion, Pacific Lutheran University

“Both informative and compelling, Waiting for Good News by Sally L. Wilke invites deep involvement. Her experiences of living with chronic illness in several contexts and her weaving together of others’ stories produce a moving backdrop to engage the reader. Her approach to integrating narrative, medical information, psychological and systemic processes, practical wisdom, and spiritual tools is masterful. Down-to-earth and rich with shared vulnerability, this volume will help pastors, caregivers, and especially people who are living with or caring for those with chronic conditions. Wilke teaches us the importance of honoring grief, learning to ask for help, and discovering God’s presence in the midst of it all.”

–Rev. Dr. John Beck, co-pastor, Pointe of Grace Lutheran Church, Mukilteo, WA


Sally Wilke was born into a reading and writing family. Her mother’s poems and articles appeared regularly in a Christian parenting magazine for many years. As her mother’s life as a wife and mother grew busier, her writing talents were employed by area church groups, businesses, family, and friends.

Sally inherited the reading and writing gene and, in her early years, worked with her mother to create skits and dramas for church groups and family gatherings and holiday celebrations. Her writing took an interesting turn when she tried (and failed) at poetry at the height of Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s popularity in the late sixties. Articles and essays on civil rights and the Vietnam war became her primary means of communicating her adolescent angst.

In the years before Sally and her sister, Sue Kirk wrote their spiritually motivated DIY publications on Christmas and Easter (see Get Ready, Celebrate, Rejoice and Remember and Rejoice, she was primarily writing brief meditations and prayers for a wide variety of daily devotion publications, including Our Daily Bread, Upper Room, and Daily Text. Her devotions were also published in the “Women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America” magazine.

During the course of her career in social work administration, she created and maintained publications for non-profit organizations, contributed topic-specific articles and essays to newspapers and magazines, wrote award-winning grant proposals, and monthly newsletter articles.

Journaling since childhood, Sally pulled from those journals for her recent publication,Waiting for Good News, Dealing with Chronic and Serious Illness. Keeping a record of her life with both her dad and her husband, Sally’s journals also contained stories, bible verses, prayers and other encouraging readings that helped to guide her through her loved one’s illnesses.

Sally is currently working on a novel (her first!) about the intimacy created by a group of vastly diverse women following the 2016 presidential election and another non-fiction book on Mental Illness.

NOTE: Three months before Waiting for Good News was published, Sally was diagnosed with a non-invasive breast cancer that required surgery, radiation and a five-year regimen of medication. She has new thoughts and words to add to Waiting for Good News.