Philip Yancey is one of my favorite contemporary Christian writers. My first exposure to him was during my premed days at Harding when I read Fearfully and Wonderfully Made, a book he coauthored with Dr. Paul Brand. Since then, he’s only become better and more prolific. As someone who in the past has described himself as a “reluctant Christian,” Yancey to me feels like spiritual next-of-kin.
Two weeks after the Virginia Tech massacre, Yancey waded into the morass of grief that was Blacksburg, Virginia and delivered these words.
I sent this link to Number One Son, figuring that he might appreciate some of the things that Yancey had to say as he prepares to take up the tricky business of learning and living out his faith on a state university campus. This was his reply:
Wow. I’ve heard so many preachers, ministers, devotional leaders or whoever make it sound like God erases pain like it never happened, like the pain is an entirely bad thing. While I do believe that God will erase all suffering someday, I’ve always had a problem with the concept that he intend this life to be painless. This guy shoots that idea down and says that God intended pain, along with every single thing that happens in this life, to be used positively . . . even the pain of being a part of something like the massacre at VT to honor those killed. I like this guy, good find, you should blog it.
Good idea, Number One. I think I will.
As someone who has sat on the mourner’s bench as both the comforter and the afflicted, I know firsthand the paralysis that can set in as one ponders the difficulty of what to say in the midst of dire and death-filled straits. It’s all too easy to try too hard and strike the wrong note.
Yancey, however, is pitch perfect.