While serving as the Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral, John Donne preached regularly amidst the Great Plague that swept London, killing a third of the city’s population. He spent himself on his duties until he himself was diagnosed with plague, and confined to bed. During his time of isolation and severe illness, he kept a spiritual journal that would become the Devotions — a literary masterpiece listed among the best nonfiction works of all time.
This Reading features excerpts of Philip Yancey’s book A Companion in Crisis, in which he artfully paraphrases Devotions and connects its lessons to our modern times and current struggles.
He notes in his introduction: “During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic…, I turned to Donne’s book, struck by its relevance to our modern crisis… His journal of wrestling with God is timeless, applicable not just for a crisis of illness, but for any of the crises, large or small, that we moderns face on this troubled planet. Nowhere have I found such a wise meditation on the human condition as in the journal he kept while confined to bed during a pandemic.”
As we continue to weather the ravages of a pandemic, we thought this topic a fitting reminder to keep our eyes fixed on the One who brings ultimate healing and new life.
Philip Yancey’s forthcoming book, A Companion in Crisis, the complete paraphrase of John Donne’s Devotions, will be published as a 30-day reader in early 2021. Learn about the new book here.
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