Philip Yancey says he wrote his first “real book” at the age of twenty-seven: Where Is God When it Hurts? If you haven’t read it, you should — 1.5 million copies have been sold. Yancey came to visit @100Huntley Street TV program with his latest book, The Question That Never Goes Away: WHY? We all ask “Why,” don’t we? Why did you allow my Mom to die, God? Why did Kyle, 16, hang himself. I was suppose to conduct his funeral but my flight was delayed by bad weather. The funeral home was filled to overwhelming with his teenage friends asking, WHY? My wife Cristie stood before those young people in my absence, explained the Gospel, and invited anyone and everyone willing to pray with her and invite Jesus Christ into their lives. Many did as their collective voices echoed together.
I asked Yancey what his answer would be to atheists and agnostics who have experienced and studied tragedy. Romans 8:28 has two qualifiers. It reads, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” The promise is not universal — it is uniquely applicable to true believers in Jesus Christ: the called, and those who love God.
We trace some tragedies to sin that is ever present in our world. The signature of sin has destroyed many lives and marriages. But there are some tragedies we will never be able to understand until we enter heaven and possess perfect knowledge in a perfect land. The prophet Habakkuk wrote “But the just shall live by his faith” (2:4). Someday we will know. Someday we will understand. But now we must take every experience in life by faith – trusting in a God who has everything perfectly in His control even when it seems things are out of control.
At a Leaders Luncheon @ Crossroads on Tuesday we listened as Philip Yancey told us how Francis Collins, the American physician-geneticist noted for his discoveries of disease genes and his leadership of the Human Genome Project and Director of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, reached out to noted atheist Christopher Hitchens as who died of Esophageal cancer, tumor(s) of the esophagus. While some professed Christians were filling the internet with vitriol condemning Hitchens to hell, Dr. Collins was quietly extending the finest and latest medical research and suggestions possible in hope that Hitchens might be cured. Simultaneously, Hitchens was writing articles periodically appearing in Vanity Fair of his cancer journey and continued firm commitment to atheism undeterred.
Collins showed love to Hitchens. This was Philip Yancey’s admonition to us – the church must be there demonstrating love at all times, particularly, the difficult, extreme trials people endure. Hitchens wrote something curious shortly before his death. He said that if he had met Christians, who were more like Dr. Francis Collins earlier in his life he might have considered Christianity. Think about it.
Do you see something profane? Are you exposed to a person, made in the image of God, walking in darkness. Show them love. Yancey’s message registered loud and clear with me.
To see our interview go to www.100Huntley.com or go to this link: http://www.100huntley.com/video?id=bg3SIHhM–k