I probably would have never picked up Steve Hayner’s Joy in the Journey on my own – but I’m really glad that IVP sent me a copy of it.
Joy in the Journey is a collection of entries from the CaringBridge website, written by Steve (president of Columbia Theological Seminary) and his wife Sharol, as they underwent the journey of losing Steve to cancer. Easter weekend of 2014 Steve was diagnosed with a malignant tumor. His battle with cancer lasted through the end of January of 2014.
Conversations about death and dying are often awkward in our culture. We want to think more positively, or more optimistically. We want to be encouraging. For people of faith there is often the feeling that to talk about death is the opposite of talking about hope, and we want to be people who offer hope. Our awkwardness around the subject of death keeps us from considering our own deaths, or planning our funerals, or even making sure we have written a will. – Steve (94)
The fact that conversations about death and dying are awkward is precisely the reason why you should pick up this book. Its hard to find someone who is very open about their process of passing away, but for someone in ministry like me (or likely you if you are reading this blog) seeing someone make the journey through sickness to death, all the while being faithful to Christ and seeing the hope of Christ even through death is an invaluable resource. Besides the fact that you will be encouraged by Steve and Sharol’s faith throughout it all, there is much to learn from here, especially if you are ministering to people who are sick or terminally ill.
Don’t shy away from this book, even though its about death. We rarely confront death in our culture, we avoid the topic, and this harms our ability to minister to those who are dying. For the sake of your ministry, take the time to read through this book, and see how death impacts a family, before you begin to deal with death in your own ministry.
To sum things up, I leave you with something John Ortberg said to Steve about his journey, it expresses my sentiments about this book so well:
God is shining and speaking so deeply in your words that I don’t know how to express it. Thank you for taking the time and the energy in this journey to all us to be a part of it, and to gain something of the gift of wisdom that is flowing through you with so much power in the midst of physical challenge. I will try to welcome this day. (55)
Note: I received this book courtesy of IVP in exchange for an impartial review.