It was a typical e-mail from Asbury Seminary professor Ben Witherington. It simply said, "What do you think?" followed by a link to his blog. Ben has written many pieces for me over the years, for Christian History and Biography and Christianity Today, so of course I was intrigued.
Like other readers, I was stunned and impressed and inspired. Ben was blogging about his 32-year-old daughter, Christy, who had died a couple of weeks earlier. I immediately thought, So soon? Then again, we each have our own ways of working through grief, and Ben is a voluminous writer. It only made sense that he would grieve through blogging.
What impressed me was this: Ben's refusal to deny the pain and his refusal to deny his hope. I've read many accounts of grief, and some, like C. S. Lewis's A Grief Observed, are superb at exegeting the pain. Others wax eloquent about our hope in Christ. But here were reflections that both acknowledged the pain that will not be healed before our "glad heavenly reunion" and that refused to let go of God's promises.
To say the least, I never broach publishing ideas with someone who is in the immediate throes of grief! But Ben had contacted me and asked for this editor's thoughts, so I sensed he wanted to broaden his reach. Indeed, that was the case, and soon enough we were hammering out details of an article for CT and an eBook for Christianity Today Essentials.
The article, which starts on page 36, gives a taste of the longer eBook, now available at CTeBooks.com. For the book, Ben and his wife, Ann, added personal reflections on Christy. We wanted to help readers get to know Christy, to deepen our sense of the contours of Ben and Ann's grief. I also asked Ben to add even more theological reflection.
The whole ...