My memoir, Where the Light Fell, tells the saga of my older brother, in whose shadow I grew up. Marshall was blessed with an off-the-charts IQ and preternatural musical gifts, including absolute pitch and an auditory memory that enabled him to play any music he’d ever heard. Everything changed in 2009 when a stroke cut off blood flow to his brain. One day he was playing golf; two days later he lay in an ICU ward, comatose.
Only a rare type of brain surgery saved Marshall’s life, and thus began his new identity as a disabled person. In a reprise of childhood, it took him a year to learn to walk, and more years to speak sentences longer than a few words. He persevered, coping with a useless right arm and a speech condition called aphasia. Now he proudly wears a t-shirt that says “Aphasia: I know what it is…I just can’t say it.”
From my brother, I learned the challenges of disability. The vexation of being unable to get words out. The indignity of needing help with simple activities like taking a shower and getting dressed. The paranoia of knowing friends were making decisions about him behind his back. In public, strangers averted their gaze, as if he did not exist. Only children were forthright. “Mom, what’s wrong with that man?” they’d say before being shushed; bolder ones approached his wheelchair directly to ask, “Can’t you walk?”
The frustrations grew so great that Marshall researched how many Valium and Ambien pills a suicide would require, then downed them all with a quart of whiskey. His desperate attempt failed, thank God, and he ended up in a psych ward. Since then he has gradually rebuilt his life, aided by many hours of therapy, and now manages to live on his own and drive an adapted car.
A year ago, while skiing in Colorado, I gave clear instructions for my legs to turn downhill, and they disobeyed. Instead, I slammed into a tree, breaking my boot and ski and badly bruising my left calf muscle. Strange. My brain had given orders, and the legs simply ignored them.
Over the next few months, other symptoms appeared. My walking gait and posture changed. My handwriting, already small, grew even tinier and sloppier. Some nights I had mild hallucinations during sleep. I made many more mistakes while typing on a computer keyboard. My miserable golf game became even worse. I mentioned one possibility to my primary care physician, who replied, “You’re in great shape, Philip. You can’t have Parkinson’s Disease.” (Always get a second opinion.)
By last Fall, I was living in a time warp. Tasks such as buttoning a shirt took twice as long. I felt as if some slow-moving, uncoordinated alien had invaded my body. When other people began noticing, I knew I had to get checked out medically.
In my insurance network, no neurologist was available for six months. So I changed insurance plans to one with a wider network and leaned on a friend to arrange for an appointment in her state-of-the-art facility. Last month a neurologist confirmed a diagnosis of Parkinson’s, a degenerative disease that disrupts connections between muscles and the brain. I began a dopamine-based treatment along with physical therapy.
As I informed a few close friends, I feared that now I had acquired a new label: not just Philip but Philip-with-Parkinson’s. That’s how people would see me, think of me, and talk about me. I wanted to insist, “I’m still the same person inside, so please don’t judge me by externals such as slowness, stumbling, and occasional tremors.” In fact, I coined a new word—dislabled—in protest. I had seen others judge my brother by his cane and withered arm and shyness to speak, unaware of the complex and courageous human being who exists behind the screen of those externals.
Then, less than a week after my diagnosis, reality forced its way in. As if to prove nothing had really changed, I decided to try the new sport of Pickleball, kind of a cross between tennis and ping-pong. Within five minutes I dove for a ball, stumbled, and pitched forward. Any reflex to break my fall kicked in too late, and I landed face-first on the hard surface. Waiting in a packed emergency room for eight hours, I realized that I had undeniably joined the motley crew of injured and disabled people who visit such a place on a Wednesday night. I’m not dislabled after all.
From now on I will be making adjustments. No more leaping from boulder to boulder on one of Colorado’s 14,000-foot mountains. No more kamikaze runs on a mountain bike. Ice skating? Probably not. Definitely no more Pickleball!
In a preview of aging, disability means letting go of ordinary things that we take for granted. I shouldn’t even climb stairs without using a handrail, and walking is now my safest form of exercise—as long as I watch my feet and don’t shuffle. Just as I’ve had to slow my pace when walking alongside my brother, now others must slow their pace for me.
A friend who heard my news sent me a reference to Psalm 71, which leads with these words:
In you, Lord, I have taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame.
Although the poet wrote in very different circumstances, harassed by human enemies rather than a nerve disease, the words “let me never be put to shame” jumped out at me. Other psalms (see 25, 31, and 34) repeat the odd phrase.
A measure of shame seems to accompany disability. There is an innate shame in inconveniencing others for something that is neither your fault nor your desire. And a shame in having well-meaning friends overreact: some may treat you like a fragile antique, or complete your sentences when you pause a second to think of a word. Though still experiencing only mild symptoms, already I anticipate shame over how these may worsen: drooling, memory gaps, slurred speech, uncontrolled tremors.
Shame can sometimes goad to action. After my diagnosis, six friends wrote that they had observed something unsound about me, but didn’t mention it. Only two risked being as blatantly honest as a child. During a restaurant dinner one said to me, “Have you got the slows, Philip?”—earning a look of reproof from his wife. Another, more blunt, asked, “Why are you walking like a decrepit old man?” Those two comments spurred me to intensify my search for a neurologist.
“Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone,” Psalm 71 adds. That prayer expresses the silent plea of all disabled persons, a group that now includes me. The CDC calculates that 26 percent of the U.S. population qualifies as disabled. Now that I have joined them, I try to look past the externals—as I do instinctively with my brother—to the person inside.
In the first month of my own acknowledged disability, I have become more self-conscious, which can be both good and bad. I do need to pay close attention to my body and my moods, especially as I adapt to medication and learn my physical limitations. Yet I don’t want to obsess over one part of my life, letting a disease define me. Warning sign: the other day I opened a newsletter and mistakenly read Daily Medication instead of Daily Meditation.
Time magazine recently ran an essay by a disability activist who has written a book on “Disability Pride.” A newly vocal generation wears the disabled label as a badge of honor. Members of the deaf community, for example, scorn such euphemisms as “hearing impaired” and refuse medical procedures that might restore their hearing.
In contrast, I admit I would be delighted to have Parkinson’s magically removed from my life. I would hold a pill bonfire, cancel my order for a cane, and dust off my climbing gear. However, I don’t have that option, and perhaps the disability activists are simply focusing on accepting the reality that some things can’t be changed.
Although I still cringe at the awkward euphemism “differently abled,” I understand it better now. The phrase points to the fact that life is patently unfair and people are unequal in their abilities. My brother played piano concertos while I was struggling to master scales. Compared to Tom Brady or Venus Williams, we’re all athletically disabled. And, though Parkinson’s may eliminate some of my favorite physical activities, I can enjoy others that a quadriplegic person may envy.
No two human beings have exactly the same set of abilities, privilege, intelligence, appearance, and family backgrounds. We can respond to that inequity with resentment— or somehow learn to embrace the gifts and “disabilities” unique to ourselves.
In my writing career I have interviewed U.S. presidents, rock stars, professional athletes, actors, and other celebrities. I have also profiled leprosy patients in India, pastors imprisoned for their faith in China, women rescued from sexual trafficking, parents of children with rare genetic disorders, and many who suffer from diseases more debilitating than Parkinson’s. As I reflect on the two groups, here’s what stands out: with some exceptions, those who live with pain and failure tend to be better stewards of their life circumstances than those who live with success and pleasure. Pain redeemed impresses me more than pain removed.
This latest twist in my life involves a disease that could prove incapacitating or perhaps a mere inconvenience; Parkinson’s has a wide spectrum of manifestations. How should I prepare? I was blessed to know Michael Gerson, a New York Times columnist and White House speech-writer who lived with Parkinson’s for years before succumbing to cancer. A colleague said of him, “At the peak of his career, he used his influence to care for the most vulnerable, spearheading the campaign to address AIDS in Africa. When he was at his lowest point physically, he never complained but focused on gratitude for the life he had lived.”
That is my prayerful goal. After a bumpy childhood, I’ve had a rich, full, and wonderful life with more pleasure and fulfillment than I ever dreamed or deserved. I have an omni-competent wife of 52 years who takes my health and well-being as a personal challenge. Sixteen years ago, when I lay strapped to a backboard with a broken neck after an auto accident, Janet drove through a blizzard to retrieve me. Already she was mentally re-designing our house in case she needed to prepare for life with a paralytic. She shows that same selfless, fierce loyalty now, even as she faces the potentially demanding role of caregiver.
My future is full of question marks, and I’m not unduly anxious. I have excellent medical care and support from friends. I trust a good and loving God who often chooses to reveal those qualities through his followers on earth. I have written many words on suffering, and now am being called to put them into practice. May I be a faithful steward of this latest chapter.
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Thanks for your honest words that touch the center of our humanity. Those who see the most, feel the deepest. I was thinking about all your books and articles penned over the years. I hope you will smile, even through the tremors when they come–knowing that words live forever. Yours especially–as they reflect the Eternal light we seek. God bless always, Kam
Philip so sorry to of your diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease. Your books have touched me deeply and God has used you to touch so many people and myself and make us aware of how deeply, richly and sacrificially His love is for all of us and how He desires to be in a loving relationship with all of us. Praying for you. Your brother In Christ, Tom Dunne
Philip, your writing has had a significant impact on my life, going back to my own experience in a college Bible study of The Jesus I Never Knew of making my faith my own (instead of just one handed down to me). I pastor a church in a college town now, and we just started using that same text. I pray that your words and wisdom will have an impact on these young people. I also pray that God will be gracious beyond measure towards you, as you have been a blessing to so many. Know that you are in the prayers of many whose lives you have touched in incredible ways.
Your writing speaks to my heart. I was able to relate to much of what you wrote in your memoir. Now I’m saddened to hear of this latest ordeal, but you encourage those of us who have worked with children with disabilities and questioned God about the suffering we have witnessed. May God be always near, blessing and guiding you along your new journey.
Please know that we at the Faith & Fellowship Book Festival are praying for you and your wife. As you journey through this challenge you will inspire others through your words, just as you always have.
My husband was diagnosed of Parkinson’s disease 2 years ago, when he was 49. He had a stooped posture, tremors, right arm does not move and also a pulsating feeling in his body. He was placed on Sinemet for 8 months and then Siferol was introduced and replaced the Senemet, during this time span he was also diagnosed with dementia. He started having hallucinations, lost touch with reality. Suspecting it was the medication I took him off the Sifrol (with the doctor’s knowledge) and started him on PD natural herbal formula we ordered from Health Care HERBAL CENTRE, his symptoms totally declined over a 3 weeks use of the Health Care HERBAL Parkinson’s disease natural herbal formula. He is now almost 51 and doing very well, the disease is totally reversed! Visit w w w. healthcareherbalcentre .com
I am sorry. Your books have been a marvelous blessing across many years. I’m sure your marvelous writing skills will be used in a new way. And many will be blessed yet again. Blessings Brother Philip.
Philipp, your words are such a blessing and comfort for the persons who seeks God. I found a lot of strength reading mostly of your books and was encouraged by your written toughts. May God bless you in this illnes, so you are victorious not in spite of it but trough it!
Thank you for sharing the hard stuff. I am an avid fan of yours – and credit your books as a catalyst for strengthening my faith in a loving God.
Please know I will keep you in my daily prayers. May God hold you gently and love you strongly.
It takes so much courage to write an article like this, to expose your own vulnerabilities and weaknesses. Thank you for sharing your story, your words, and your current life circumstances with us. We appreciate you! Praying for you and your family!
Welcome to the club, you didn’t want to join. I want to thank-you for your thoughtful reflection. I can identify but also have a different experience. I was diagnosed at 37 and now it is almost 10 years, but “until death do us part” is Parkinson’s catch phrase as sadly the cure is elusive.
With those morbid ideas out of the way, I hope my story encourages you – as it does most. As a Christian I turned to the Bible and found the many who experienced illness but Paul was able to say:
“I delight in my weakness”.
8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:8-10
I didn’t feel like Paul, but I decided that my prayer would like to be like Paul, and I clung to this in the hope of finding a reason for my weakness.
Within 4 years I was getting worse and worse. It wasn’t easy as I was living in Peru as a missionary when diagnosed so there were no physiotherapists who knew much about PD.
Exercise is the best way to treat Parkinson’s and so don’t give up on your sport and adventurous ways so quickly. You need to train your body again… each has their own path usually with a physiotherapist’s help but I did not and for me light exercise didn’t cut it. I was struggling to move and walk. So, I took up gymnastics! It was extremely draining but I worked hard and filmed my experience.
I made a video Handstand for Parkinson’s, which was a finalist in the World Parkinson’s Congress video competition in 2019. It’s an event for the whole Parkinson’s community (professionals and people with Parkinson’s and their caregivers). The WPC2019 helped me pivot. I was able to learn a lot about Parkinson’s and I went back ready to train even harder and help educate my community in Peru. I have relocated to Australia, and I continue to educate about Parkinson’s Disease.
Like I said…before
I didn’t feel like Paul but I decided that my prayer would like to be like Paul and I clung to this in the hope of finding a reason for my weakness.
And with God’s help, I improved my range of motion, balance, flexibility, coordination and strength. It is amazing for me to see the change which is in my Before and After video.
Opportunity after opportunity has come my way.
I am an ambassador for the World Parkinson Congress 2022 which is in Barcelona in July, which I invite you to attend.
I can see God’s strength at work…
I give glory to God, and he given me opportunities to show his power in my weakness.
Life isn’t perfect. I still have symptoms and struggle when my medications don’t work but I now delight in my weakness because
God’s grace is sufficient for us! God’s power is made perfect in our weakness.
Watch my INVIGORATE video on
youtube [dot] com/c/ChristineJeya
You are indeed an ambassador–of hope! Thank you for this gift of honest, practical help. I know I’m just one of many people your example has touched.
My grandma has Parkinson’s disease, she is about 75 years old it was detected 7 years ago. Right now it’s getting more difficult to live for her, because of stiff muscles she can’t even move. L-dopa and carbidopa medicines are given, but won”t give much relief. She can”t eat food and the skin is damaging forming ganglia. I thought this might be the last stage and the medications she was given did not help at all, so I started to do alot of research on natural treatments, I was introduced to Health Natural Centre and their Parkinson’s Herbal Protocol. She started on the Parkinson’s Treatment last year, her symptoms gradually diminished including her Tremors, Body Weakness and Muscle Pains. Reach them at healthnaturalcentre.org , She is getting active again since starting this treatment, she is able to walk again ( down the street and back )she have also resumed exercising to strengthen muscles!! God Bless all PD Caregivers. Stay Strong, take small moments throughout the day to thank yourself, to love your self, and pray to whatever faith, star, spiritual force you believe in and ask for strength. I can personally vouch for these remedy but you would probably need to decide what works best for you.
When I think of Parkinsons I think of Freddie Roach, a great boxing trainer and former professional boxer (boasting a 40-13 record), who fought the last part of his career with the disease; he also tried to tough it out physically. After retiring at 26, he went on to train 27 world champions including Miguel Cotto, Wladimir Klitschko, James Toney, and Mike Tyson. His greatest fighter (in my opinion) is arguably the best welterweight boxer in the last 50 years, Manny Pacquiao. Freddie is one of the greatest trainers I’ve ever seen (and I’ve been a hardcore boxing fan since the 1970s), and he accomplished this amazing feat WITH Parkinsons “limiting” him all these years! Like you said Philip, people with disabilities like Parkinsons are still the same people inside, the exterior has just been changed/limited, just look at what Roach has accomplished!
I see you still writing excellent books and ministering pretty much the same as you always have in the coming years, just physically altered to a degree.
Take heart brother, we’re all praying for you and yours, this disease will not defeat you.
Philip, I have lived with MS for thirty years and understand the challenges of an uncooperative body.
When someone informs me of a new diagnosis of cancer, Parkinson’s, or of any traumatic experience, I recommend your books.
I pray that the insights you have blessed us with through your books sustain you and Janet as you navigate the changes in your daily living. May God bless you with healing, strength, humor, wisdom , and abundant grace.
I join others in saying I am so sorry to read about your diagnosis. News of that kind can jolt any human being no matter where they are on the journey of life. I have to confess I have not read a lot of your books, however, a close friend of mine suggested Grace Notes to me almost a year ago and I have read the daily entries since then. The daily readings have been comforting, challenging, funny, dramatic, and most of all hopeful. Through your writings, you have allowed all of us to question with hope, our next home. I have recommended this particular book to others, and have purchased the book as gifts as well. Your honesty, for me at least, is rare and I appreciate it. This latest blog confirms it. I, too, will pray for you and your wife as this newest journey begins. May God continue to give you peace and comfort.
Phillip, I wish to emphasize the information in the response written by Tom Lawton. He stressed the importance of exercise as therapy for Parkinson’s. Please check out Rock Steady Boxing. I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2015 and began boxing immediately (as well as joining other exercise programs). Now, almost eight years later, most people as surprised when they learn I have P.D. Boxing may seem counterintuitive as a therapy for the disease. But I hope you will give it a try! I pray God’s blessings for you as you face this challenge.
Philip, thank you for your transparency in sharing this with all of us. I am so encouraged by your ever-present sense of humor! I’ll keep you and Janet in my prayers.
Erika J. Füstös
(The Hungarian translator of your books)
Two of your books helped me immensely during my 30+ year difficult marriage. “The Gift of Pain” and “What’s So Amazing About Grace.” And, of course, forgiveness and practicing grace and mercy throughout. Thank you. I hope others realize that life is full of different types of pain for EVERYONE and that GRACE is a necessary component of living a sane life! While earlier in life mine were mostly about relationship, now I am facing a life as a blind woman. I am not worried. In fact, my father and grandfather both lived their last decade (90’s) as blind grace-filled men. You are in my thoughts and prayers. May you experience daily blessings going forward and know them as such.
May the Lord bless you and keep you
May the Lord smile on you and be gracious unto you.
May the Lord show His favor and bring you His peace.
Thank you Philip for all the joy and inspiration you’ve brought me over the years through your written words.
Oh Philip, as with everyone here, so sorry to hear of your new challenge but do know you will keep writing, blessing and enlightening us all.
Also want to pass along something I was just reading about yesterday, a new treatment for Parkinson’s that shows lots of promise: neurosciencenews[DOT]com
Thanks much–looks promising
Thank you for the humility and transparency of your post. I found myself resonating deeply in several places such as people looking away, children, and the struggle to feel like a whole person. For me shortly before we first walked on the moon I had my right hand suddenly amputated. Shortly after that the young woman I was seeing, a strong believer, said she no longer felt comfortable around me. The saga began and still comes in cycles and spots.
Gradually over time I believe the “d” word so frequently used is just like the “n” word. Destructive, demeaning and shaming. Look at the definition of and synonyms for the “d” word. I find very little of God in those words.
I chose to say I do some things differently than others. It is not about ability as that is not a criteria that God values a great deal. All gifts are gifts from God.
Others may chose to use the “d” word and I need to respect and love them as God loves me. At the same time, I want to invite all to a place of greater acceptance and value based on who they are at any given moment.
I speak only from my viewpoint and hope I convey invitation and not criticism.
Again thank you for sharing. God bless you in this next chapter
Dear Philip, my unexpected attentive and compassionate friend whom I’ve never met:
Not quite 10 years ago, I was diagnosed with a rare, progressive, and degenerative lung disease and given 10 years to live. I was 47. My husband and I are close friends with Keith and Suzann S. and, at the time of my diagnosis, Keith sent me your book on prayer and you tucked the most encouraging and hopeful note inside. I still have it (the book AND your note!)
At the time, prayer was the most difficult piece for me. I quickly progressed through the shock, denial, anger, and bargaining but I remained completely hung up on prayer, and with that, hope. When our futures are entirely rewritten by one simple phone call, it’s so hard to know how to pray, isn’t it? It feels like God has already pounded the gavel and that’s that. Verdict made. So why pray?
But somehow, Philip, your book stepped into my life and gave me hope and a renewed desire to talk to God. It helped me to see that living each new day with each gifted breath with everything in me is actually a form of worship. I’m not dead yet – and so I celebrate life!
I really wanted to pray for healing but was so afraid to do that. I didn’t want any absence of healing to be an indication of my lack of faith. So I didn’t even ask God for healing! I’ve mostly prayed (and am still praying) the Lord’s Prayer. It seems to be about right to just keep asking God for His will to be done. And, in a beautiful plot twist, I’ve had this stupid disease for over 9 years now and I’m beating the odds. I feel great and I’ve got plenty of hope for the future. I truly feel despair might have won me over if it wasn’t for your book coming to my doorstep on a cold Michigan November day, nine years ago.
It would be so poetic if I had a book for you now, too – something that comes from the heart of a fellow sufferer and encourages you as you enter the future you didn’t want. I write a lot of things, but I haven’t written a book yet. I wish I had so I had something to give you right now. A pithy comment here just seems so inadequate for someone receiving a Parkinson’s diagnosis. I wish I could give you a really meaningful gift right now – like an all-inclusive spiritual retreat at The Abbey of Gethsemani so you could hang with Trappist monks like Thomas Merton, or maybe just a lovely dinner with your wife, or, at the very least, a delectable box of chocolates! But I will share with you a nugget of wisdom from the great philosopher Stephen Colbert (ha!) I listened to him share about grief on the Anderson Cooper podcast, “All There Is.” Colbert shares how grief (and suffering) can be a gift as it moves us toward understanding, empathy, compassion, inclusion, and love. YES!!! If someone asked me if I’d like a big dose of those characteristics, I’d say YES, OF COURSE! I just wish we didn’t have to suffer to grow in those areas, but I’m pretty sure those are simply the rules.
Again, Philip, thank you for reaching out to me in one of my darkest seasons of life. Your words then, your words now, and your future words, will always bring me light and hope. May your hope now, in a likely dark season of your own, be partially brought to you by the fact you have brought so much light to so many of your readers for so many years. I am one of those whose life has been impacted greatly by your words.
I commit to praying for you as you wander around in this new wilderness of Parkinson’s. If I’m not sure what to pray for, I’ll go back and reread your book…
Grace and peace –
Philip, we feel privileged to have known you since you and Janet moved to Evergreen in 1992 and we’ve read most of your books and heard you speak quite a few times. You have used your talents well and given all of us so much! Don’t quit! I feel as if you still have so much to share. Parkinson’s is definitely unwelcome and possibly a hindrance but I hope you will keep on writing! Your fans await!
Your writing has profoundly influenced my understanding and experience of what it means to live a life of faith. With every book I’ve had the sense that you were inspired by your own questions to work to find answers-which you would then share with your readers. So many of your books began with a question. Your search for answers to the questions we all ask has provided me a valuable education.
Thank you for sharing this new challenge in your life. We all have disabilities-they’re just not all visible. Your insights as you share your journey will be an encouragement to all of us.
You are in my prayers and hopes for a good continuation of life in spite of Parkinsons. My mother was handicapped her whole life (couldn’t walk) and my uncle had Parkinsons for 10 years. It is hard to have the physical abilities go away, especially in an athletic person like you! My Mom was an inspiration to others, including myself. She found swiming a great joy. Emily was determined to live her best life and did, with God’s help. I believe you will too. Likewise, my Uncle Arnold moved here after his diagnosis and was a joy to have around. Amazingly he did not get stiff due to YOGA.
I was sad that you have to go through this and agree this part of life can sure bring trials. Your gracious writing and considerate ways will help you and many whom you touch. I am so glad you have such a loving wife and a brother who can relate to handicaps. You made a big impact on me through your visit to the United Church, Los Alamos, and through your caring faith-filled writings. Irene Powell shares with me some of the great ski adventures you all have had.
God is walking this stumbly path of yours, always. A friend who has had many problems lately likes to say, ” I can’t wait to see what God is going to do with this.” I believe this applies to you, too. And there are many of us supporting you with love and prayers. Sincerely and with great hope, Betty Smith
First, I want you to know that your books and ministry have played a keen role in my life and in my walk with Christ. I have been reading your books for over 30 years and some of your books I have read multiple times. They never cease to teach and inspire me.
I love your blog on disability. It mirrors my own experience in so many ways.
I have secondary-progressive Multiple Sclerosis, a degenerative form of MS. I was diagnosed in 1999, but one doctor thinks I’ve been dealing with it since 1990. I have been in a wheelchair since 2003. I am now a quadriplegic and spend my days in a hospital bed at home.
When I was first diagnosed I was still doing everything that a neurotypical person can/may do including: playing guitar and cello; crafting, drawing, painting, and sculpting; homeschooling my daughters; cooking and helping to take care of a household; running my own business; volunteering at church; leading our homeschooling group; as well as other basic life activities.
I can’t do any of those things anymore. I spend most of my days doing things on the computer (with computer assisted devices), reading, listening to audiobooks, and watching TV. I no longer go to church and depend on Zoom meetings and church online to fill that space. I can’t sing anymore and I miss being able to praise the Lord in song. My interaction with other people is mostly short visits and interactions on social media. I haven’t had a real good hug for over 10 years. It’s hard to hug somebody when they’re sitting in a wheelchair. I am reduced to being an observer of the world around me.
I think one of the hardest things I deal with is my inability to enjoy my grandchildren. I sit and watch my grandchildren. It’s all I can do. I can’t pick them up and hold them or hug them. I can’t get on the floor and play with them. I can’t cuddle them beside me as I read a story. I can’t hold them close and shower them with kisses or smell their sweet baby smell.
I have lost so much over the last 30 years.
I have petition God, to heal me, but my MS continues to progress. I do believe that God can heal me and I know he will heal me, but it just may not be on this side of heaven.
There are the people, Christian or not, whether I want to hear it or not, who can’t wait to tell of me of a friend, acquaintance, friend of a friend, or even someone random that they have read about online, and how they were healed of the MS because of some new treatment, drug, or diet. I try to listen patiently, but sometimes it takes everything in me to reply gracefully instead of lashing out in anger. How do I tell them in 5 minutes what it’s taken me a lifetime to learn.
I’ve had people think that somehow if they (because obviously I haven’t) spoke the right words I would be healed. I’ve been accused of having an unconfessed sin in my life that was keeping me from being healed. One friend suggested we pray over my house, in every room, because Satan needed to be banished before I could be healed. Another friend actually brought a hanky, that had been blessed by a preacher, that she felt would heal me if we put it on me and prayed over it.
I don’t believe that it’s because I don’t have enough faith to be healed either, which I have been admonished of many times, because it takes more faith to sit in a wheelchair every day than it does to be healed.
Over the last 20 years, I’ve gotten to know other believers who have a disability. They have taught me many things, but I think the greatest thing that I have learned from them is something I call “radical dependence.” I have seen in them a stronger faith and trust than I’ve seen in most able bodied believers. You’d think the opposite would be true, that they have every reason to be angry at God for their lot in life, but it isn’t. I think part of the reason why they can live a life fuller of faith is because they have had to live a life of dependence.
I have learned, in my own disability, how much I have to depend on other people. Consequently, I have learned how to depend more fully on God. Only when I know just how much I am incapable of doing things, will I realize my need to ask for help.
“God’s gift to me is dependence. I will never reach a place of self-sufficiency that crowds God out. I am aware of his grace every moment. My need for help is obvious every day.” Joni Eareckson Tada
It is because of my great need, because of my dependence that I can be, have to be, more trusting. The apostle Paul says it best in 2 Corinthians 12:9 – “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” Faith and trust grow in the fertile ground of dependence.
I have taken license and changed a quote from your book, “The Jesus I Never Knew.” You wrote it about the poor, but I feel that it is true for the disabled as well:
“In summary, through no choice of their own…[disabled people] find themselves in a posture that befits the grace of God. In their state of neediness, dependence, and dissatisfaction with life, they may welcome God’s free gift of love.”
I’ve come to realize, partly through reading your books, that healing comes in many ways. Though I haven’t been healed, yet, of the MS, I am being healed of many other things; impatience, pride, perfectionism, distrust, gracelessness, misunderstanding, and worldliness, to name a few. He has also healed of the need to be healed.
I have learned a dependence on God that I could never have imagined. I feel His presence beside me and His grace in me in a deep and profound way.
I still struggle with each new loss. I still mourn the loss of what I once had and I will continue to mourn, in some small way, until I put off this earthly frame. For now, though, he is enough. This is what He asks of me and how can I say “no” to the one who gave all for me?
I was just in the hospital with Covid and am realizing that I am probably in the home stretch of finishing the “race set before me.” I don’t know how long that will be, it could be days or months. I could still be here by this time next year, but something tells me I might not be.
One final thought: When we get hurt, whether physically, emotionally, or mentally, we are often left with scars. The MS causes scars to form on the nerve fibers in my brain and spinal cord, which in turn cause disability and other symptoms . When I get to heaven I will not only be healed, but the scars will be gone too. I will have a new body free of illness, pain, and scars, but in heaven Jesus still wears his scars.
There are many reasons for this, one reason is, as Spurgeon tells it: “The wounds of Christ are his glories, they are his jewels and his precious things. To the eye of the believer Christ is never so glorious…” as when we are reminded of his sacrifice of love.
My scars will be gone in heaven, but he will wear his through eternity, by his choosing, so his body will always bear the marks of his love.
He has promised me healing, but as the Israelites wandering in the desert learned, his promises come in his time not ours.
I will be praying for you and I don’t say that lightly. You are not taking this journey alone. A cloud of witnesses will be supporting you and the Comforter will be ever near.
“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.”(Numbers 6:24-26, ESV)
Kathy, I didn’t post this right away because it is so long, and so personal. But now, as I read it again, I realize what hard-earned wisdom you are conveying. You are eloquent, and write beautifully. I find deep insights all the way through. “How do I tell them in 5 minutes what it’s taken me a lifetime to learn?” you asked. Well, you’ve done just that. I’m sure your comment took much longer than 5 minutes to write, but a quick reader can likely get through it in that time period. I’m not cutting a word. We need to hear you, and I need to learn from you.
There are very few men who write about chronic illness and disability. Thank you for the courage to share this new part of your story.
Chronic Joy is making a difference one precious life at a time and today we that hope you’re the one. (chronic-joy [dot] org)
As you consider how God is calling you to serve in the new season of being dislabeled, we extend a warm invitation to write for us, sharing your story of chronic illness/disability and how it is transforming your relationship with God. You can truly make a difference in the lives of those often isolated, lonely, and often forgotten about.
While this is a big ask, we serve a God who does immeasurably more that we could ask or imagine.
Dear Phillip! Wow… I’ve just read with apprehension your new text on your health. Just two months ago I read your autobiography, and have already read some of your books translated to Portugues. I read you from Brazil, and always receive your blog with great anticipation. I admire your gifts and ABILITIES. I have a brother with Parkinson’s, as well as other loved ones with health issues, so I was strengthened by your words on “disabilities”, and I am sure they will be as well. Thank you for those words of wisdom and good cheer. God bless you and Janet!
I am so sorry to hear about your diagnosis, but I know if anyone will bring Grace and dignity to your new found situation it is you. In fact, you are already doing so just by sharing your own thoughts and feelings so honestly and being so willing to do so. Your books and your words have meant so much to me and been such an inspiration over the years and given hope to a faltering, even struggling, evangelical. My own journey in faith, in so many ways, has mirrored your own. Sometimes I think I could have fallen away from the church altogether but for your written words inspired by God and and a true heart for him and his true will for our lives. I have never given up on God, but the church…well…they don’t always reflect truth, humanity, grace or forgiveness. Thank you so much for sharing your life’s work and helping one poor struggling soul feel as though the journey is not a vain one.
I was so saddened by your health news.
I think I have all your books except for your most recent one, and I treasure each book for it’s value in my spiritual life. The season of Lent has begun and each year I happily reread your book, Prayer. It is my favorite and each year l learn something new in rereading it. Thank you for all your work in leading us toward understanding the love of God through Christ. May God richly bless you. I am grateful for your life.
Philip, so sorry to hear of your recent struggles. You have given so much to so many over the years, myself included. The sheer volume of responses suggest the love in which you are held. You will be in my prayers.
You seem to always be the voice for so much of what so many of us go through. I’m sad for you to go through this but ever so glad that you still speak and continue to be the voice for us. I have related to so much you have written over the years and been comforted immensely because you chose to write and speak about tough things! Thank you! May God sustain you through this tough thing.
I am also a Parkinson’s patient. I have had Parkinson’s (PD) for over four years. A few things I have learned: (1) Everyone is different. Unique. Therefore, do not think you will have to experience what another PD patient experiences. I have yet to live with external tremors, yet many patients do. (2) exercise is crucial. It has been proven that exercise slows the progression of PD. Here are some exercise resources I found helpful: briangrant [dot] org/exercise-videos; patricklosasso [dot] com (very good). On the computer, “Canada Exercises for people with Parkinson’s”. This might be on You-Tube. You mentioned “Rock Steady Boxing”. If there is one near you, they are excellent. My wife, Pat, and I love your books. Have read many of them, and still discuss them. Having Jesus going thru this with you is SO HELPFUL…as He told us, “Fear not, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will uphold you with my victorious right hand (Isa 41:10 LB). God bless you Philip!
Philip, as with your writings, it is inspiring to read your honest and vulnerable thoughts and feelings about this new season of life. Be encouraged that “your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3) and no trouble, no trial or no testing can enter in without some great purpose and plan. Prayers for God to supply in abundance His sufficient grace, perfect peace, tender mercies, living hope and love that passes knowledge!
Thanks for sharing candidly about this sad and painful news. May God give you His extra grace and fortitude, about which you wrote so aptly. Your books and articles have been such a blessing to me and countless others. I look forward to continue to read what you write. I will forever cherish our conversations in Cluj and in Bucharest as you visited Romania about 15 years ago. Strength and Grace for every day ahead!
I am sorry to hear of your latest trial. I pray that you meet each challenge it presents only in the grasp of His grace, love, & everlasting presence.
You are completely woven into the fabric of my living, breathing, & often tenuous relationship with Jesus. There still has not been a time in my walk that He was more revealed to me than reading The Jesus I Never Knew & What’s So Amazing About Grace nearly 30 years ago. Yours is the work most quoted in my preaching & teaching & have dropped your name so often my churches think we know each other personally & intimately.
As a recovering racist, what I’d like to thank you the most for is the way in which you bravely revealed & confessed your struggles with racism in so much of your writing. It was reading your confessions & struggles that confronted not only my own racist upbringing, but how I continued to live & practice as one even after I had been born again. I have not reached the finish line or goal but have been enlightened to a much more humble & repentant way as my struggle continues with my white supremacy & privilege.
I don’t know if it helps you at all currently to know what you have done for me in the past. Thank you for letting God use you & for everything you have written that I have devoured & returned to over and over again these past 30 years.
And thank you in advance for all you will do within your new framework & outlook. From this first blog post to whatever you may share with us as your life & ministry continues remember your quote to us via Henri Nouwen – “There is no more effective healer, I have found, than what Henri Nouwen calls ‘a wounded healer.’ Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
You have been & will continue to be that most effective healer to me.
Wishing you all His peace, all His grace,
Philip, thank you for explaining so well the tangled web of emotions and physical symptoms associated with Parkinson’s Disease. Another possible arrow in your quiver could be functional medicine. Functional medicine specialists attempt to discern the underlying causes of the symptoms and perform investigations and treatments that traditional neurologists often omit. I am blessed to have a wonderful functional medicine practitioner as part of my health care team. I dare say she has been a greater help to me than anyone, especially considering I get no symptom relief from the pharmaceuticals traditionally prescribed for Parkinson’s patients. You can find much helpful information at the Institute for Functional Medicine website, ifm.org.
Blessings to you – Patricia
I cried reading this blog. Thank you for always sharing your heart. Your books and blog continue to point to God who is worthy of our trust. I join with others thanking you for your words and faith. It’s no surprise that you wrote “Pain redeemed impresses me more than pain removed.” Thank you for challenging us to see beyond our pain. Like many others, I will pray for this next chapter.
No author has had more influence on my faith (outside of the Bible). I am praying for you. I am also grateful for the faithfulness of God who, as you mentioned in the post, has seeming prepared you for this. I am sure you will chronicle your journey and encourage others as you always have, for as long as God allows. May He bless and keep you and your wife in this new season.
This news makes me sad and angry at the same time, sad for you and angry that disease has found you too. Of course, it is inevitable as we age. I’m probably about your age but have been partially disabled for decades now. I could try to be eloquent about it as you so obviously have been, but it feels good to just get mad sometimes! I won’t inflict the words going through my own feeble mind at this moment upon you and your readers (I bet you can imagine). Most un-lady like words. Hey they have their place.
I was so sorry to read you have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s. I know first hand the struggles because my husband suffered with it for 23 years. You and Janet will be in my prayers daily. When I read your blog I thought about what Pastor Will Willimon told Dr. Kate Bowler when she received a diagnosis of stage 4 cancer. He said “Kate your best work may be ahead of you.” I pray God will use you in even a greater way to help others on our Christian walk.” Through your writing you have helped me so much.
Thank you for your courage and faith in sharing your tsunami of Yancey family news. In our current world of living life, post COVID-19 lockdowns, we are all being told to adjust to a new normal. Your normal is a new adventure, as are the adventures that you have given my wife and me at our breakfast readings from “Grace Notes”.
Blessings to you and your wife, Paul and Marg
I am sorry for your troubles and struggles both now and earlier in life. Thank you for being so open and raw in your writing. You encourage me as I face my own health challenges of aging.
Thank you for all of your books—especially the ones on prayer and your autobiography. You (and my mom) have had a bigger impact on my falling in love with talking to God and nurturing my relationship with Him than anyone else on the planet. I now blog and write (just finished a 130-page manuscript) with the sole purpose of encouraging others to pray. I don’t believe I would be doing this had I not read your books. Thank you!
I am and will be praying for you to navigate PD well—always knowing and feeling how much He loves you.
Phil, Thanks so much for sharing this. These seasons of illness can be so very disorienting and the clarity you express about your thoughts and feelings is so beautifully rendered. But that is not surprising given your gift with words. I’m in a similar season. The lymphoma that has been in remission for two years is no longer sleeping and I see my oncologist tomorrow about what comes next. It is still low grade, but treatments are likely again. I am so very thankful for your writing over the years. I retired in June as a pastor and as I packed books I found the first edition of
“Where Is God When It Hurts?” It was one of the first Christian books I ever read and have read it many times. I loved the memoir and it rests in a stack that my wife will read soon. I used a number of your video resources over the years when I taught classes and the one I think people enjoyed the most was “The Jesus I Never Knew.” Again, thanks for all the good writing. I’m praying for you.
Last year I spent 8 months dealing with severe sciatica to the point of thinking I was going to lose my mind with the pain. Philip, your book with Dr. Paul Brand, The Gift of Pain, was instrumental in changing my perspective on that pain. All I kept hearing as I read it was “My life is in His hands”. As my body started to heal I remember a moment when I was able to bend down and pick up a bar of soap, with little discomfort. I praised His name in that moment but my prayer immediately following was that whether I could pick the soap or not, that I would still praise Him. I’m sorry to hear of your recent diagnosis but appreciate how you continue sharing your struggles and observations always pointing us to God. Take care.
We are so very saddened to hear of this challenge facing you and your wife Janet. Your books have had a lasting impact on our lives as we wrestled with the stresses of caregiving a daughter with special needs. She was blind, mentally disabled and had CP. She passed away in January of 2021 at the age of 40 after a dreadful 6 months of adult onset dystonia. After her death we discovered how greatly she had influenced hundreds of people from our church and I have no doubt that the Lord welcomed her to heaven with the words “Well done, good and faithful servant”. And I also have not doubt that our heavenly Father will also use every painful moment and word that you share on your journey to bring Glory to His name. Praying for God’s mercies now and in the days ahead for you and for Janet.
That she lived to 40, with CP and the other issues, is a tribute to your loving care. You too will hear those words from God someday.
I am so sorry to hear of your diagnosis. I was diagnosed with PD nearly 2.5 yrs ago but looking back the symptoms began many years prior but they began in such a subtle manner that I was able justify it as ‘being out of shape, or had a tiring, stressful week of work, etc’ I, like you love the outdoors, while living in Northern CO. Spent many weekends camping, hiking, fishing and hunting in the Poudre Canyon and my diagnosis was crushing. All this to say is keep up the physical activity. Do what you can, fight through the feelings of ‘too tired today, I will try again tomorrow’. Some others have mentioned boxing but there is also HIIT (high intensity interval training), going for long walks, running, enjoying God’s creation here in CO (being in the present, something I struggle with)
Excellent advice, and I’ll follow it!
As always, you face the truth and work with it to help others. I have always been a great fan of your books, as I could have been your sister, living in a household that practices fundamental beliefs. Your books have been so liberating, cutting the ties to judgmentalism.
I am so sorry to hear that you have this new challenge to walk through. If we don’t die young, we will get old. We need people like you to walk through many of the challenges that older age brings, including Parkinson’s, so you can write to encourage others through their challenges. You always shine a light on the truth. May the Lord be with you and encourage you at this time.
In reading your books over the years you’ve become like a brother (I like to think of Tim Keller as my spiritual father). This is eloquently shared and sadly a reality of our human condition. But I know you will allow God to transform this next chapter. Prayers for you and Janet 🤍
Philip, thank you for taking the step to leave the darkness of fear and anxiety and move into the light of transparency. As always, that is when you are at your best and most powerful.
I attended Michael Gerson’s memorial service and was grateful for the times when he said better than I what I was experiencing in dealing with Parkinson’s. And now you have given voice in such a powerful and non-sentimental way to what we all experience — even those without Parkinson’s–as we face life’s unexpected challenges.
I prepared a talk about 8 months ago on how Parkinson’s has helped me on my journey to becoming more like Jesus. In it I refer to PD as an “uninvited guest”. Uninvited because I did not ask for it, but a guest nonetheless which means I now have some responsibilities related to hosting it that I need to look after. It was a way to address the identity issue you mention.
Many blessings as you face this new challenge.
I’d like to see your script or notes on that talk, Dan, if you could send it to me (email@example.com)
Dear Mr Yancey, thank you for this blog. As always honest, inspiring and uplifting, just like your books. Some of them (especially What’s So Amazing About Grace?) had a profound impact on my life. Wishing you and your wife all the best and may the joy of the Lord be your strength.
So thankful for your candid, hope-filled sharing of your life. My husband recently retired –unexpectedly, due to back injuries–and we have been doing some “adjusting” –Learning to be grateful for every single part of our life that is “normal” and realizing it is truly a gift from God. It is easier to see why the pioneers of the Faith did a much better job of looking forward to our real Home, and didn’t dwell so much on making life on earth conform to our preferences. I hope we help each other live with eyes that see the heart of each person–rather than the abilities, or likes and differences, of others. You know, like Jesus does for each of us.
Please have a look at the article attached. A well known broadcaster in New Brunswick Canada has just had life changing treatment for Parkinson’s . I believe God gives us miraculous advances in medicine.
(search: ca/news/canada/new-brunswick first-person-harry-forestell-parkinsons-dbs)
Thank you. Someone else sent it as well. I’m hoping medication will work well enough that surgery won’t be necessary.
Blessings to you, Mr. Yancey.
Your words continue to be an encouragement. Attending a conservative Christian high school on the late 90s, The Jesus I Never Knew opened my eyes to the words of Christ in a life-giving way. This past year, your memoir brought perspective and encouragement to this early 40s, married, father of four. And as our own father walks through his battle with Parkinson’s, your words prove timely yet again. I look forward to sharing this essay with my dad.
Thank you for your faithful life of pursuing Christ. Prayers for your new normal.
Thanks for sharing. I know this comment will seem out of the blue but have you been vaccinated or boosted for COVID. The vaccine has a lot of neurological injuries associated with it. Not just the myocarditis, pericarditis and sudden death that you see with athletes. If you had the vaccine and especially boosted recommend try treating for vaccine injury.
Thank you as always for your honesty, I’m sad that you are facing this. There are many times when we’re not sure what God is doing when we struggle with health & other issues.
9 Years a go I was diagnosed with a rare condition called Cushing,s Disease caused by a pituitary tumour, following surgery I developed Adrenal Insufficiency, another rare condition which can be life threatening necessitating the need to carry an emergency injection of steroids.
Like you I was very fit, enjoying walking my dogs for an hour each day, hill walking & swimming a mile front crawl, I now have to use a stick or a mobility scooter to get around, due to this condition & also psoriatic & inflammatory osteoarthritis – life has changed.
There is a silver lining though, there were no support groups in the UK for this condition only in the US where your health care system is so different to ours. We’ve now grown to 1900 members in 6 years, helping members in the diagnostic process & supporting them following surgery. If I’d regained my health I wouldn’t have been able to do this, due to my lack of mobility I spend a lot of time on my laptop. It’s wonderful to hear how the group has helped others & although I would love better health God has provided me with another way to reach out to others. I could extend this to other situations I have been in due to my health where I have been able to help others going through a tough time.
God is good – all of the time.
Go well Philip with every blessing.
Philip: My younger sisters and I walked with our father over the 20-year course of his Parkinson’s experience, as nurses and devoted children, along with my brother-in-law, who loved him like his own dad.
I retired after 30 years in medical-surgical nursing last year because of degenerative changes to my spine from injuries and aging, many hours of flight time, high mileage and a sometimes sketchy maintenance record in an active lifestyle. I feel the pangs of empathy for you as you face yet another mountain rising into the clouds ahead of you and your wife.
There is little doubt in my estimation that you will both summit with grace and all joyfulness. I have remembered Billy and Ruth Graham as I write this. Never underestimate the reach and impact of your calling and ministry, my brother. Your influence upon my life continues even now after my first encounter with your work in 1997.
I am eternally grateful.
Be strong and of good courage, my brother and sister.
Every Grace and Joy to You and Yours in Christ Jesus, With Love, Respect and Great Appreciation,
Curt Pegram, Henderson, NC
Thankyou for your powerful post and im sorry to read about your diagnosis.
Its hard to hold on and stay faithful when tough things happen and you write about that so powerfully. Like so many others im just an ordinary guy, a pastor as it happens who gets stuff wrong and struggles to lead a congregation but voices like yours that are so honest and authentic really help guys like me so i’ll be remembering you at our weekly wednesday communion tomorrow and i hope you know how greatly you are loved and admired around the world. Thanks for helping me so much through your writing. Jono
Reading your post, I was reminded of Jill Bolte Taylor’s My Stroke of Insight, one of the most fascinating memoirs I have ever read. Who could possibly be more qualified to be at the receiving end of a massive stroke, experience the loss of a brilliant mind, write a riveting account of a gruelling recovery over an eight-year period, and, in the process, impact the lives of millions of stroke sufferers worldwide, than a Harvard trained neuroanatomist? What seemed like a cruel trick of fate (why her of all people?) turned out to be a triumph. The reason is that Bolte used the last fragments of her shattered awareness to keep on reminding herself that she had been granted “the research opportunity of a lifetime”. Reflecting on this remarkable book, I was reminded of another who approached the great existential crisis and philosophical obsession of humanity – death – not by constructing an elaborate theory but by entering into the experience. This is the way of the cross, it seems. As Paul explains, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort…” I have a shelve filled with your books, well-read and note-scribbled, and I have recommended Where Is God When It Hurts? more times than I can remember. Yet, for me this post carries a weight and authenticity that transcend all of the information in those books (and I love all of them). Perhaps, like Samson, your greatest contribution to the work of God will take place when you are at your weakest.
I’ve read Bolte’s book, and agree with you. It gave an inside look at what my brother experienced with his stroke.
Philip, I have so respected you. You spoke at a Veritas Forum at UC Santa Barbara in the mid 2000s and I will always remember you saying that three things made you confident of Gods existence: natural beauty, classical music, and romantic love. So good!
Your writings nourished my faith for many years. Thank you for being the kind, generous person you are. May the Lord bless and keep you in this new season.
The tears are rolling down my cheeks…I am not as articulate as others who have responded but my prayers for you are as sincere. You have so impacted my life by your words for which I am forever grateful. God bless you and be with you, Philip.
Philip, you are my favorite and most frequently read author. Someone else commented above how you shaped much of their spiritual formation, as you have mine. I have been reading you since Disappointment with God, Where Is God When Life Hurts. Really appreciate you introducing me to so many amazing mentors in your “Soul Survivor” book. I admire your dear friendship with Dr. Paul Brand. I will be praying for your journey. Thank you for being a willing vessel that God will continue to fill. He is faithful and provide what you need. Much love to you and Janet❤
My husband and I met you at Union Church, Hong Kong, a few years ago now. You were giving a talk, and after the talk I asked 3 questions – probably not allowed but I did it anyway and in one of them I was asking you about suffering. I had a good friend who was young, and who had been suffering from cancer for years, and so many people have told her a whole range of things which were extremely unhelpful (like there must be sin in her life, that sort of thing), and in the middle of asking you what we should say to someone like my friend, I burst out crying, in front of a whole church. And I still remember your response – you said perhaps what we should be doing is what I was doing then – to cry with our friend, to just sit and be with them, there’s no need to say too much, especially when we don’t know what to say.
So this is one of those moments when I don’t really know what to say, but from thousands of miles away in Singapore (where we are based now), I am thinking of you and I cry with you, but I also pray for you and I thank God for your incredible life so far (and I’m sure, with God’s grace and your courage, it will be even more incredible from now on).
Take good care, you’re in our prayers
I feel like I know you Phillip from reading many books that you have written. Today I finished reading “Where the light fell”. Tremendously blessed and can identify in many ways with its powerful message. Because of reading your books I’ve been inspired to also pursue writing . I admire your God-given ability to paint pictures using words. Ive been so blessed and challenged to pursue truth regardless of the cost. You have faithfully faced topics that rare mortals dared to disect. You have blessed me over and over again, too which I say thank you. Praying for your healing but most of all that God will be glorified in and through your life.
My husband was diagnosed of Parkinsons disease 2 years ago, when he was 49. He had a stooped posture, tremors, right arm does not move and also a pulsating feeling in his body. He was placed on Senemet for 8 months and then Siferol was introduced and replaced the Senemet, during this time span he was also diagnosed with dementia. He started having hallucinations, lost touch with reality. Suspecting it was the medication I took him off the Siferol (with the doctor’s knowledge) and started him on PD natural herbal formula we ordered from Health Care HERBAL CENTRE, his symptoms totally declined over a 3 weeks use of the Health Care HERBAL Parkinsons disease natural herbal formula. He is now almost 51 and doing very well, the disease is totally reversed! (search: health care herbal centre)
Dear Mr. Yancey,
I am so very sorry to hear of your diagnosis. But I know that you will meet the challenges using the same grace and class that has marked all of your wonderful books and writings. Thank you for being a light in the darkness, a fellow traveler on the Christian journey. I’ve read many of your books but my two favorites are probably Vanishing Grace and What’s So Amazing About Grace. Hugs and blessings to you, Janet, and Marshall. Sincerely, Hilarie Quispe, Aurora, Colorado.
Dear Philip and Janet, I first met you in the basement of LaSalle Street Church. Someone had said that they were attending a Bible Study class and that maybe I wanted to attend — it was September 1983. I remember you preaching on a complex passage in Scripture. (Matthew 8:32). For the first time in my adult life, you made Scripture come alive. I went across the street and bought an NIV Bible at Moody’s Book Store. I still have that Bible. In the years going forward I relied on my Cell Group, Bill Leslie and you to help me understand what I clearly didn’t. Three months later in December of 1983 (bitterly cold winter, btw) I was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Prior to that, I had to endure a life without a right arm….. wearing an artificial limb. I was a congenital amputee. “What happened to you” .. was asked more than any other question. People stared. Turned away. Felt sorry for me. And so it goes to this day. I don’t pretend that my suffering is any better or worse than others. So what’s the point ? Whiskey and pills sounds tempting, but my Faith is what keeps me pressing on. So press on Philip, as I know you will, know also that you helped to shape my Faith some 40 years ago. I’m grateful. Thank you. Sleep well knowing you helped to change this man’s life. James
I have been weeping all day, reading comments like yours, James (though I think you went by “Jim” back then). It has been so moving to hear about connections over the years through such things as a Bible study, a book I wrote about my own questions, a visit to another country. I thank you and all the rest who took the time to write these comments that so humble and encourage me at a needy time.
In 1976, I was working as a nurse’s aide, working with people with spinal cord injuries. I was going to nursing school because I felt God wanted me to be a missionary and my denomination’s mission agency wouldn’t send out single women unless they were nurses or teachers. I saw an article in my denomination’s magazine about a student from Zaire(now Congo), studying at the denomination’s college in California, who had been in a severe accident and had a fracture of his cervical spine. I very vividly felt bad for this young man, assuming that his “normal” life was over. A few years later my denomination’s mission agency sent me to Zaire to work in the mission hospital and nursing school. The following year, the other missionaries were talking about this young man who was coming home after finishing a Master’s degree in Public Health. They were skeptical about his ability to fit in with his “disability” in the very isolated and rural setting. The day he arrived home, he got off the little Mission Aviation Fellowship plane to a huge crowd singing and celebrating and cheering the arrival of one who was supposed to die, then was never supposed to walk, and he was walking, slowly with a cane.
At this point in time, he and I have been married almost 39 years. We moved back to the United States in 1999 (lived here also in the late’80s as he got his doctorate in Public Health Administration). In the past 20 years, he’s had two surgeries on his spinal cord and has experienced decreased mobility after those. Then, in 2018, after a diagnosis of prostate cancer, we elected to go with surgery to remove the cancer. In that time since then, he has had no signs of cancer. However, after the surgery he was unable to stand and bear weight. After several weeks of rehab and then working with home health and physical therapy, he was starting to make progress with his mobility, when he got a blood clot in his groin. That was followed by massive lymphedema in his leg, adding so much weight that he couldn’t move the leg. He’s been basically bedbound since, except…he traveled back to Congo in 2021 and stayed for six months, then again in 2022 for a five month stay. We are moving back there permanently sometime this spring.
Every “setback” has been an opportunity to touch the lives of more people who have come into our lives, in ways we don’t even recognize. And, many blessings to your multi-competent wife! As the body gets older, the ability to function efficiently in the way we would like it to is not where we want it to be in order to provide the support that is needed!
Thank you for this party blog. I peripherally know about you from having attended Lookout Mtn. Church and teaching students with disabilities with your neighbor Syd in Denver Public Schools. I have watched all my career children working very hard just to get to start, while their “peers” were already on the podium accepting the trophy so to speak. My view was similar as a single adoptive parent of a child with a developmental disability. I recently took so much comfort from watching “The Chosen” and Jesus’ follower, Little James is portrayed with a limp and needing a cane even as Jesus admonishes him to go out and heal the sick. James struggles with his affliction and doesn’t immediately embrace being a “Wounded Healer.” We are all in the long defeat physically as I think Tolkien said. Good thing that although outwardly we are wasting away, inwardly, we are being renewed Day by day, as Scripture puts it.
Philip, its been a long time. Your journey is changing and God still lives in your heart, He has not left or forsaken you. You have new eyes now and you will see God comfort you in your new needs. Now you can console people from within their prisons. Before you were on the outside looking in, now you are imprisoned with them. You can now experience that grace God reserves for special needs people. God bless you.
We will keep Bro Yancey in our prayers. We thank God he’s been such a blessing to us from his books.
Dear Mr. Yancey,
You have been my favorite author, across all book categories, since I first read your book, “Disappointment With God,” back in 1994, and I have bought all of your books to date.
It was your willingness to address the tough questions in Christianity, those that others often shy away from, that first attracted me to your writings, and I have consistently found that quality present in all of your books. For me, you have revealed the heart and character of God to so many, precisely because you dared to ask those questions, and I thank you for doing so.
I read your blogs when they come out, however, I am not normally one to leave a comment, except when I feel compelled to do so, and this would be one of those times. Please forgive me if this seems too bold, or forward (I would have sent this as a private message, if that had been an option), but it was just this morning, no less, that I was reading, what I thought was an incredible article about a Canadian journalist who has Parkinson’s, and he was writing about his journey and the recent positive outcome that he had just gone through. Maybe there was a reason that I read that article and your blog on the same day. Here is the article: (search: cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick … first-person-harry-forestell-parkinsons-dbs)
May God continue to use you to reach those who need to learn about His love, as only you can, and may you find resilience and peace in whatever direction God sets your feet upon.
God bless you.
Fascinating! Let’s hope brain surgery is a last resort but I’m saving this article just in case.
Dear Phillip and Janet, Thank you for your honesty and candidancy in discussing this topic. I can already think of a few with whom to share your story. We never quite know what cards we will get, but I am a great believer in communication and sharing to the best of our ability. My husband and I, who have been great athletes and outdoor physical people, have our own struggles and I hope this brings them out somewhat. I think we haven’t always believed the medical community can help, but I hope to talk with you sometime for a possible neurologist recommendation in the area. I know you will navigate this well. With blessings from the Gooch family.
When I came to faith 28 years ago I was trying to figure out how to redeem the pain in my life. Not only the pain that I experienced, but the pain I had inflicted on others.
The second book I read was “Where is God When it Hurts” and I followed that with “Disappointment with God.”
They put me on the right path in my spiritual formation and I will forever be grateful to your guidance.
You taught me to see in His Word his pain, however meaningless it last seem at the time, can be transformed because He is in us.
I pray for God’s healing for you and know that even in the midst of this, he is still doing his work through you.
I thank my God in every remembrance of you.
Until he returns,
From wbat you taught me through your books.
His grace is always amazing and is always there for you.
“Ride on and live on”
I must say to you.
When I finished reading your post, I immediately reposted it to FaceBook. Your sentence, “Pain redeemed impresses me more than pain removed,” is worth memorizing. “Pain redeemed” echoes the words of James, Peter, and Paul. This is our deeper truth, our greater things, the “being glorified” Jesus spoke of in his prayer.
I know so very many people who are quietly enduring pain and disability, and there are few others whose hearts go out with as much compassion and gentle wisdom as theirs. That is pain redeemed.
Count my prayers with those around the world for you, Janet and Joannie and all Team Yancey. May you continue to view your glass as half full with confidence in who is doing the pouring.
Grace and peace to you,
Your grace-filled, unflinchingly honest writing have breathed hope into my life. Prayers for this new stage of ministry.
Here’s a message from our God, just for you, Philip, and no one in these replies can say it better or with more ability to help you:
“Even to your old age, I am He,
And even to gray hairs I will carry you!
I have made, and I will bear;
Even I will carry, and will deliver you.”
(Isaiah 46:3, NKJV)
“When my father and my mother forsake me,
Then the Lord will take care of me.” (Psalms 27:9 NKJV)
I am the self-elected President of the Northwest Philip Yancey Groupie Fan Club, and I am weepy over this news. We are almost the same age, you have Parkinson’s, I have diabetes, and the earthly outlook ain’t looking too good for us. But I am content, and I claim the right to buy us the first round of whatever the heavenly equivalent is for a good coffee.
Stay strong, Philip, the trial is now beginning, you have many new things to learn from it, even after all your teaching. God is not quite done with refining you as silver. (Ps. 66:10)
We are sorry to hear about your diagnosis! Thank you for sharing what you did! Be assured of our prayers for you and J.! Praying that the Lord will minister to your hearts!!!
I’m sorry to hear of your recent diagnosis, but you seem to be handling it well. You spoke at our Logos bookstore in Nantucket many years ago it was a wonderful time. Our daughter has a book that you might be interested in. Andrea Herzer —-Incurable Faith “ 120 Devotions of Lasting Hope for Lingering Health Issues”
Your blog – post which comes to my inbox is the first thing I pull up. You never cease to inspire, amaze, teach, and challenge me with your take on life. Thank you for sharing now, your physical journey.
Having read/listened to via Audible your autobiography, I feel I ‘know’ your brother, so will hold him in prayer as he continues to navigate his life. Am now reading your book on Prayer: Does it Make Any Difference? and so you’ll be continually in my heart and prayers.
I know God has much for you to accomplish here on earth; a new journey awaits! Praise Him! He’s already introducing you to new folks with whom to build relationships; new opportunities to share Jesus-love; new ways to view His hesed (lovingkindness) and grace.
Prayers for you, Philip, one of my most favored authors.
God be with you and your precious Janet.
Thank you Philip for sharing with raw transparency this new path you’ve been asked to journey on. It must be so hard to come to terms with. No doubt this has been a time of great grieving in your life as you learn to release of some of the things you’ve held so dear. “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.- Isaiah 43:19” I admit that I have no idea what these words from scripture might mean in your life and as it relates to Parkinson’s disease, but I pray they become meaningful and life giving to you over time.
May God’s nearness remain firmly entrenched within you especially when you feel fearful, defeated, discouraged and/or ashamed. We are encouraged throughout our lives to become like little children before God – completely dependent and reliant on Him for our physical, emotional, financial wellbeing. Few of us have ever learned (or even wanted to learn) how to do this well. Independence reigns supreme in all of us. I pray you will be given divine insight and supernatural grace into this reality as your disease progresses and that you will continue to be a light to us all in the wilderness. .
Philip – I write this with tears in my eyes just for the struggle that you are beginning to understand, but also with hope that God leads you to deep places that you will articulate for us and lead us to greater truths as you have so faithfully done during the years. My mom (who now watches from heaven), a friend, my brother and sister-in-law all have read you voraciously (and I briefly had the priviledge of meeting you in Pasadena once at Lake Avenue Congregational). You candor and writing skills have made you our favorite author and through your writings you have changed my life and perspective more than anyone except God. Thank you for sharing this with us – your readers and fans – who love you and Janet remotely and all you mean to us; dislabeled or otherwise.
More than you could know, your life and work has impacted mine – for good. A few weeks ago, I turned 75. It’s a big number. Mortality gets more and more real, especially as dear friends and peers deal with the inevitable complications of aging.
You are quite right about your “omni-competent wife.” Janet has been a major influence in producing all those wonderful books, reaching massive audiences, and giving comfort, encouragement and hope to all us struggling sojourners just trying to piece together purpose and meaning in a world that so easily trips us up. She’s been your primary inspiration, your confidant, your soul-mate.
You’ve summited many peaks, good friend. This Parkinson’s thing is one more. Your climbing partner, your “omni-competent” trail mate, is and will be right there with you reaching out with a steady hand and a kind word, offering trail mix and a sip of water keeping you hydrated.
What a gift.
You are loved, my brother. And I am one of your most ardent admirers.
A resounding amen to your comments.
Although our challenges are different, I can tell you from years of experience that faith grows stronger in the face of the unknown and in the face of experiencing this mortal body that does not seem to comply despite our most fervent wishes and prayers. We know though that God remains sovereign and not a misstep nor a stumble escapes his watchful eye, and that one day we will be healed, in His time. He calls us to be patient in affliction and steadfast in prayer, a high calling on some days. Love to you my friend, from a fellow traveler who has walked (and wheeled) a path similar to the one you are embarking upon. Look closely on the journey and you will find many unexpected gifts.
May grace abound!
Your words are well-earned, Randi. You’ve proved the truth of what you write.
Touched to hear this news, Philip and I find it important to let you know just how meaningful and how blessed you have been to me.
I found your book, Where Is God When It Hurts? as a teenager in Nigeria mourning a deep loss and it helped pull me out of a deep dark hole. I read it now as a timely reminder when I feel my grief crippling.
You have lived a truly rich and fulfilling life.
I’ll be praying for you, Philip.
You help answer the “how” this side of the Garden. Because of your pain, suffering, questions, grace and faith, my heart is encouraged beyond words. I’ll be forever grateful for your honesty and for addressing the hard issues that uncovers the fear and shame in all of us. Thank you for showing us the Way.
My husband was diagnosed with Parkinson’s about 10 years ago. We’ve watched the slow advancement of the disease by arming ourselves with information, and new routines. We both do more “pole-walking” around our pastures. My husband’s biggest regret is having to retire from a job he loved at age 69. But when you work with electrical medical equipment, it’s not safe. He says to give yourself extra time and practice in turning and walking.
Dear Philip, I am a slow reader but have your memoir and looking forward to your chapter on your brother and his journey living with aphasia. I am a retired speech pathologist. Throughout my career I spent many therapy hours with patients who suffered the residual impairments of stroke, head injury, and neurological impairment. Many experienced the anguish you describe of aphasia and Parkinson’s disease. It was my privilege to work with those who suffered, either through the shock of sudden onset or the agonizing, gradual deconstruction of motor function. It was a constant reminder of how much we take for granted, the way we communicate, understand, speak, read, write, and swallow. My colleagues in the fields of occupational and physical therapy, as well as doctors and nurses, could sum up so well the limitations of a dysfunctional body. My patients often were initially upbeat in their hopes for a full recovery, but over time would realize their limitations would not magically disappear. The road to recovery is long. To learn to compensate and accept, to problem solve, find alternatives and use them…was the way to live again. Pride of life took a beating, but for those who could change their mindset, and live anyway, that was the key. My prayer to God for those who face these giants, is that they would find their hope planted in our Lord, who not only understood our brokenness but sacrificed Himself on our behalf, to make us whole and free, even in this fallen world. It is a humbling and devastating, dark journey ahead. But God has granted you a loving, faithful wife, and a hope in Christ that will see you to the end of this life, transformed to the next. Thank you for your words and for using your gifts in His honor and service. Much aloha!
Dear Philip – First of all, thank you so much for sharing your journey in this life. Your books have challenged and encouraged both my husband and me. Then this morning as my husband read the opening paragraphs of your blog to me with tears in his voice, we find that God is taking you on a major bend in the road. I know. I’m on the same road–just about 20 years ahead of you. Here are a couple of things that have helped me on this road: 1)Memorize this statement and use it often to explain your condition to others: “If you’ve seen one Parkinson’s Patient, you’ve seen exactly ONE Parkinson’s Patient.” We all have different symptoms. Please don’t lump us all together! 2) Exercise daily. Don’t wait for your neurologist to tell you to do this. Some great exercise programs are FREE and ONLINE so you don’t even have to leave the house. 3) Keep laughter on your list of daily things to do. Check out a small book by Michael Kinsley called Old Age: A Beginner’s Guide. He uses his own battle with Parkinson’s to explore getting older. Funny, but also insightful. 4) Allow others to encourage you, but let your ultimate strength be the LORD. Early on I read these verses in Isaiah 43 – “I have upheld you since you were conceived, and have carried you since your birth. Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you. I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” 5) The Chosen – You may not agree with everything or even that the life of Christ should be made into a show, but it has been comforting for me (and many others) to be reminded that Jesus sees us and understands us because he traveled this road, too. 6) Psalm 90:10, and 12 – but especially verse 12 – “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” I look forward to hearing from you about the heart of wisdom God is teaching you! May He strengthen you and your wife, Janet, for that bend in this road. May He sustain, strengthen and carry you, and give you more time to write about what you have learned!
May God give you grace and shower you with mercy as you navigate this new section of life’s journey. As one who has a chronic health condition, I understand giving up who I once was and the process of accepting who I am now.
Thank you for your transparency. He will sustain you. He will carry you – “even in your old age.”
I just wrote a comment. Maybe don’t print it – I really meant it just for Philip. Thank you
I’ve kept it private, Nancy. Thank you.
The words you wrote in your blog — and have seemingly always written in your books — are those that express a life in Christ that is to be bold and courageous because of who He is. It is my prayer that during this challenging journey with Parkinson’s that your actions, thoughts, and attitude will continue to express that same posture of being bold and courageous, even when the frustrations mount. May the Lord grant you and Janet an abundance of His unlimited favor and wisdom. Gripped by grace, Fred
Dear Philip, I am ahead of your PD diagnosis by a little over a year. I saw my neurologist two weeks ago and she said one-third of us will never have a tremor. My gait is my biggest challenge. Do check out Rock Steady Boxing classes for PD patients. My daughter, Daneen shared that resource and it has been a blessing. You will remember Daneen from speaking at PUC in the mid 90s. Sharing fellowship with you and Janet there was a highlight of our years there.
Your books line my bookshelves and I’m reading them again this year and continue to give them as gifts to my cherished friends.
Sending love and prayers for you and Janet as you trek this journey.
Thanks! I just learned there’s a Rock Steady Boxing class in my home town! Fond memories of the Akers family and the delicious food you served.
I recently read your book Where the Light fell. I grow up in a family where my Dad was the pastor of our local Baptist Church and my mom was involved in women’s Ministry. They got divorced when I was around 7 years of age and with my mom, my sister and I lived in 12 different houses moving from one place to another, never experiencing the feeling of something called “Home” or long-lasting childhood friendships.
My mom was working literally all day long and nights as a high school teacher and when She was finally, at home, she was always tired and always easily prompted to get angry for any reason. I grew up soaking up just the same way of behaviour and became equally anxious and incapable to handle stress very well. I came to Jesus around 14 years of age because I was desperate to find peace with myself and with my past. But now 30 years later, I’m still struggling with the frustration over and over again of not having the abundant life that Jesus promised to the Samaritan women at the well. I have asked to have his living water flowing inside me but sooner than I wanted the frustration and misinterpretation of the action of others made me go back from where I started. I’ve had got sometimes to the point of thinking that everyone around me deserves someone better than me, that I don’t deserve the faithful husband that I have or the beautiful children I have been trusted to care for. How Philip, may someone find peace and joy in the mids of their own repeated emotional and mental disabilities.? How the Mephibosheth of our time would enjoy the goodness of our King and Savior?
Thank you for taking the time to read my comment.
Praying for you and your lovely and caring wife Janet.
I’m no expert, but it sounds to me as if you’re sliding into a cycle of depression–very understandable in view of the wounds you absorbed in childhood. I would recommend seeking out a counselor. Medication may help, as well as a program that addresses the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Don’t get down on yourself. If you read through the Psalms, it’s clear that God’s people go through all the moods in the book. You’re on the way by admitting a need and facing the pain. Now you need a sensitive guide who can point you toward the light. Having a faithful husband and beautiful children puts you way ahead of many who struggle with depression.
After climbing my first and only 14r from your sweet mountain home, I always imagined joining you for another climb. That is not to be and I’m sorry for all the this diagnosis makes you give up. However, I can’t help thinking, especially after having read this post that your greatest works are still ahead of you. You bring something to your readers that we cannot find elsewhere. I pray that your peaceful outlook will continue to strengthen in the days ahead.
I haven’t completely ruled out the 14ers. But even if I do, there are almost 700 13,000-foot mountains here in Colorado and another 700 12-ers. So I’m not hanging up my hiking shoes yet!
Thank you. Just thank you.
Oh Philip, I tear up and I also nod. The call on your life is now going into deeper waters, and Jesus is the one with the boat. You are showing all of us how to tiptoe into living authentically, with visible vulnerability and courage. You and Janet are hand in hand in this, alllll the way thru. A most beautiful picture ever
Philip my heart is aching for you! Sending prayers and love to you and your beautiful wife!
Thank you! Thank you for pressing into God to KNOW Him and then sharing every bit of it!
I found your writings when my heart had been broken by religion and loss and you helped me know it was ok. I was ok keeping God out of a box and remembered to use that same grace He has Loved me with to love those who see differently too. He truly IS FAITHFUL, PERIOD.
Prayers for you and your wife as you live out this new season.
And for someone I have never met but has blessed my heart and life in fellowship with such sincere questions, answers and thoughts to ponder and take to Him, THANK YOU!! THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU HAVE DONE BY LIVING AND BEING YOU AND THE WILLINGNESS TO FREELY SHARE THAT! It is more precise than gold!
Treatment based on the research of Dr. Dale Bredesen, if you pursue it, will change the outcome.
This article is old (simply the first that came up when I googled Bredesen Parkinson’s) but it gives you a first taste. I leave it to you to find the current research, treatment protocol, and practitioners. (His protocol for Alzheimer’s disease is, I think, RECODE at Apollo Health.)
(search neurologysolutions [dot] com … metabolic-enhancement)
Over the 30+ years of caring for our daughter who was stricken with totally disabling chronic fatigue syndrome, we came to realize that God does heal. While we acknowledge that miraculous healing is a blessing, there is a miraculous healing in learning to live with disability, pain and chronic, invisible illness. Unfortunately, most people are afraid of this healing, but it is real. Often, people in church do not recognize and even reject this illness. But God in his grace provides this healing. I look forward to seeing God at work in you. He is not done with you. Rather, He promises to carry you through this phase of your life. He will use you in new ways to carry His message.
Thank you for sharing your faith experiences and your pain with sincerity and audacity.
You are in my heart and prayers
Philip, As I read your blog, I pictured Dr. Brand standing next you with his hand on your shoulder. I’m sure you learned a lot about disability from your travels with him. Perhaps this will give you strength. My Dad always said we have a cross to bear and some are bigger than others. I will be praying for you.
Dear Philip, I have never left a comment before, understanding the huge volume of mail you must receive. But on hearing this sad news, (two days after spending eleven hours in the emergency department once again with my husband of 53 years who has NPH, hydrocephalus, with symptoms similar to Parkinson’s), I felt I must write you for two reasons.
The first reason is to thank you for the impact of your thoughtful writings over many years. ‘The Jesus I Never Knew’, and ‘What’s So Amazing about Grace,’ in particular, stand out on my bookshelves as rich resources that have deepened and strengthened my faith in challenging times. I will pray for you and your wife as for my husband and me, that we will be faithful stewards of God’s gift of suffering.
The second reason is to offer you the link to our daughter’s website, below, wondering if her writings would be of encouragement to you in this journey. Sincerely, Marny Watts
I knew your brother before I met you fifty years ago. Memories of times with you on the slopes and on golf courses are great, but your delivery of the eulogy at the funeral of my first wife was the epitome of our long friendship. You are a class act, and we pray for God’s mercy and blessing in the days ahead. It will be worth it all when we see Christ.
What has drawn so many of us to who you are and how you write is the light of Christ that shines through the broken places. In this new journey, that will only intensify. You have stewarded your suffering well.
Philip, God’s persistent love and redeeming grace have been revealed in your life time and again and you have been blessed with the ability to so clearly and honestly put into words His message. I am praying daily for your health and for your wife Janet, who is one of the many blessings God has brought into your life.
You are a torch bearer, illuminating a path of courageous faith in the Faithful one. Thank you for your transparency and for elevating our perspective. God Bless you.
I appreciate your sharing of such a personal story. You will be in our prayers as you go forward. I know our God will hold you in His hands.
Thank you for the update on Marshall. I remember our high school days fondly.
God has blessed you with a new ministry. This is an article I will be sharing a lot. I minister in a senior living facility and see people change and struggle daily.
Thank you for sharing your journey. You and your wife will both be in my prayers.
Philip, Through the years I have been mentored by your writing. Your transparency has been so encouraging and helpful. The willingness to wrestle with questions is especially refreshing. Your willingness to share this challenge with us is so helpful. Thank you for mentoring me in ministry.
For so many years you have given me so much, from your books, and the seminar from the genesis of Disappointment with God. I still have the notes. So now I am privileged to give back in daily prayer for you and Janet. May you continue to be a light to so many.
Thank you for sharing your journey, Phillip. As I write this I am sitting on the floor of my special needs son, Shad. He is 40, has a rare metabolic disorder that has him in a wheelchair, eating through a G-Tube, incontinent and limited in communication.
My wife and I have been and are his care-givers. We are in our 70s, but blessed beyond words through the presence of our dear son. We have two other boys, both in heaven. One was killed by a careless driver 21 years ago. That was extremely hard to experience. All of these challenges though really do keep us wanting heaven all the more and know before long we will be living in a special place that Jesus is still preparing for us! One place that we go that has become very special for our son is Costco. He usually gets two kisses there and a high five from employees who see beyond his disability. Our neighbors are all close and show special love for our son and for us as well. We are so blessed! Thanks again for sharing your journey and your perspective. You have encouraged me this morning! Thank you! Sam
You are doing holy work. I learned an indelible lesson from a doctor in (then) East Germany, who ran a home for the severely disabled. For years he questioned God: “What is the meaning of their suffering? Why do such people exist?” But he ran a program involving teenagers, who were forever changed by their time serving the patients in his home. He concluded that the severely disabled aren’t so much our questions of God, rather they’re God’s questions to us. Whatever we do to the least of these…
At a time when the Prosperity Gospel wants us to profess an alternate reality, you continue to honestly share a gospel of grace. This is never more true than which you express God’s grace to you. It allows you to speak difficult truth. You are a wonderful teacher and example for those of us who are often tempted to wish away difficulty, and settle for an allusion which would rob us from the true love of God.
Thank you for your transparency and openness to share your life with us. You have been such an inspiration through the years approaching difficult subjects with the lens of God’s grace and mercy to help fellow sojourners on life’s journey.
Prayers and thanksgiving for you,
You have had a tremendous influence on my faith as well as countless others. You continue to do so. Your readers want and pray for the God’s continued blessings on you, your wife and your support team.
Find a Rock Steady Boxing affiliate where you can attend — or see about starting one up.
Your writings have inspired me and prompted me to share Jesus with many others. I care for an adult son with Autism, I have had public failure and shame in my career.
I have found that there is no shame that Jesus cannot redeem, and I have experienced his redemption many times. Shame and failure when redeemed are so much more powerful than all the triumphs we achieve, for we then can point to Jesus and say “Look what my Lord can do !” That is a greater witness than saying “look what I did !”
Remember, these aches, these pains, these diseases are only reminders that our bodies have an expiration date, or better yet, they remind us that in Jesus they are our boarding passes to Glory.
Peace. Phil Parsons
You are now and will be in my prayers. I have read and reread most of your books. I knew with the first one that you were raised similarly to me. I knew you got me and it was a wonderful experience to read your words. You have been a hero and a champion in my life. I praise God for your accomplishments and talents. He will see you through.
Philip, my dad lived with Parkinson’s for many years. As you say, there are many possible roads it could take. May you know God’s presence with you every day. We have only met once (many years ago, at Regent College, when you were presenting ‘The Jesus I Never Knew’ and you were kind enough to take time for lunch and conversation with me) but I treasure the memory and will be keeping you in my daily prayers.
I have always enjoyed your writing, and have identified with some of the issues you have had with legalistic religion. You helped me broaden my view of God, knowing I was not alone in some of my “crazy” ideas! I will keep you in my prayers as God reminds me. Thank you for your transparency and I hope to continue to read more of your books and articles in the future.
What our Lord doesn’t remove He remakes! E. Stanley Jones in his 80’s suffering a hugely disabling stroke wrote a testimony of Christ’s sufficiency – the book, The Divine YES, posthumously printed, is an inspiring testimony!
The Lord is with you
The Lord is for you
This too shall glorify him
(Ephesians 1:11 – destined and appointed to live to the praise of his glory)
“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
John 14:25-27 ESV
May His Spirit gives your peace and comfort all the days of your life. Amen
Philip – I have followed you since my high school days when you would write for Campus Life. You’ve always been a pivotal influence in my life. Then I parented a child, Caleb, who was severely autistic, total care although he was ambulatory, who exhibited more courage than I could ever dream of having, living in a world that was aversive for him, sometimes resulting in head self-injury. He died in January 2021. I’ve been a champion for people with disabilities for over 30 years for many reasons. I look forward to your further influence in my life and know that your best days are ahead! I will pray that the Lord will continue to use you and even more so in the days ahead. As a write this, a dear friend sustained a spinal cord injury earlier this year leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. His mantra has been, “His grace is sufficient for me.” I know this is true for you.
Thank you for your personal insights Phillip and for your caring Joannie. Please keep pressing into the Kingdom – Jesus still had a lot to share with us through you.
I recently read ( and enjoyed) your memoir book. My wife is now struggling through it!
In my retirement schedule now I am on a “Parkinson’s tour”, meeting for breakfast or lunch with (too) many friends with this condition .
I also have an essential tremor in my hands as well as neuropathy in my feet. (But not Parkinson’s,yet)
We all hang on dearly but loosely to this life, this fleeting shadow, this glass darkly.
Your transparency and vulnerability is helpful to me and us. Thank you!
As someone who got her diagnosis over 25 years, at the age of 1, I strongly recommend “My Body Is Not a Prayer Request: Disability Justice in the Church” by Amy Kenny. I have never felt so seen as a disabled person.
A brave and encouraging man!
Just “wow” – this message speaks to me and where I am in life. Thanks for your transparency. Perhaps, like me, you have days where optimism and God rule. And other days less so. May the Lord continue to strengthen you and fill you with His peace.
Love and blessings to you Philip and thank you for your honesty as you describe your disability and all that it means. Thank God it hasn’t impaired your writing skills, your books and all your writing are such a satisfying read. I pray for God’s grace and patience as you face the future.
Love this, Thank you so much Philip Yancy🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻
Dear Mr. Yancey,
Your words have helped me understand what a dear friend with PD is going through. I will share this with her. Now’s both of you are on my prayer list.
May God’s presence comfort and encourage you 24/7.
Most Excellent Philip,
I am sorry to hear your news. I was only taking about you last night of how your grace-filled writings and talks have touched so many lives, including my own and even your message today has that touch of inspiration which are a mark of all you write.
George Foreman was asked if Mohammad Ali was the greatest boxer of all time. George replied, “Mohammad Ali was the greatest man who ever boxed.” I remember Mohammad Ali lighting the Olympic Torch and how his greatness had not dimmed at all.
I look forward to your future writings and talks.
All blessings, Philip,
Rev Stephen Potts, Church of Scotland.
May the Lord be with you in each step of this journey, Philip, and enable you to continue to show us how to find God, know God, and draw closer to Him in difficult times. He is continuing your life’s work, just not in a way that you or any of us would want to embrace.
I read your blog with tears and prayer. I feel I know you from how you so eloquently express yourself and your quests in the written word. Then I read, “Pain redeemed impresses me more than pain removed.” I understood that; I felt that. I too have been redeemed! Our God delights in redeeming his children during all sorts of life bumps. I will continue to pray for you and watch for your writings as you provoke us all to keep thinking and growing into more awareness of Him.
Philip, I’m so very sorry to hear of your diagnosis but at the same time I’m praising God for how he has used you here on planet earth for his will he has accomplished much through you willing vessel to serve him! That is the desire, hopefully with all Christ followers
I’ll be sent you a little bit of a text letting you know that shirt in my prayers and thoughts I am planning a little trip to Colorado this summer perhaps we can meet for a short visit again may God be praised and glorified for your life and your wife and your wonderful service to God. I am praying fervently also for your healing here on earth. Take care and God bless.
God bless you for sharing this poignant and personal story. I will continue to welcome your thoughtful, insightful writing as long as you are able as I have done for some time.
Thank you for having the courage to share this. For someone as active as you, Parkinson’s is an especially severe blow. But I am so thankful for your ministry and that you continue to be enabled to channel Gods messages to us.
I have read every last one of your books. I think The Jesus I Never Knew along with experience living alongside Christians from all sorts of backgrounds with OM opened my eyes to who Jesus really is. Jesus never gave us rules, but love and grace
Thank you for your eloquent honesty and informed announcement. It sounds like you’re walking a very positive route forward. May the Lord continue to bless and keep you.
During Covid my brother Bob was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Music was a key part of his life. He’d been part of a guitar duo for decades until his partner developed Alzheimer’s. Bob’s diagnosis came after developing a shake in one arm and weaker leg. I asked him whether his shaking arm helped him with his strumming. He smiled and said, ‘No, wrong arm!’ His humour has been characteristic of his intention to focus on the positive while minimising his Parkinson’s – one of life’s inconveniences. He walks daily up the hill behind his house to keep his legs functioning and, once out of earshot, shouts to exercise his vocal chords. At present, his doctors have found no medication to lessen the arm movements.
Bless you Philip.
Kind regards, Tim Heeley
May God be with you Mr. Yancey. You are one of the finest authors I have ever read and I pray that God will bless you as you go on this journey. Please know that you are in our prayers. Love to you and your family.
Know that we love you Philip. We will take on this challenge with you and know that our prayers for healing will continue as we both climb our mountains. You remain dear and close to our hearts. Every day I go by your old home on MacArthur I will be thinking and praying for you.
Love to Janet as well from Beth and me.
God bless you, Philip…
You’ve been in my thoughts and prayers since our chance meeting on Christmas Eve. “Pain redeemed impresses me more than pain removed.” Truer words were never spoken.
Echoing Henri Nouwen, this post testifies to the fact that you’re already on the road from being wounded, to becoming a wounded healer.
Ultimately, Paul was correct, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ” (II Corinthians 1:3-5).
Philip, this sharing came at a perfect moment for me. My battle with stage four prostate cancer was compounded by a mysterious cracked sacrum requiring extensive back & spine surgery. I’m now recovering and learning to walk & climb stairs. I too am blessed with an angel named Janet and a huge community of friends and family whose prayers have kept me in God’s hands.
I am days from being declared cancer free. I’ll be driving my truck within a few weeks for the first time in 5 months. Life is good as Janet and I share every morning in our prayers and meditation by the fireplace. Bless you for your books that have taught me so much. You are truly a channel of God’s peace.
We’ve been friends a long time Philip. You just didn’t know it. As many on Facebook commented I think I have read every one of your books. Some definitely more than once. I’ve bought a few several times too as I have loaned some out and regretted losing them. Soul Survivor has been one of my favorites as well as Fearfully and Wonderfully Made and the Gift of Pain. You have helped me so many times when I have been confused and discouraged and your own challenges have often mirrored mine. I have no doubt you will continue to overcome this new challenge in a way no other would approach or view it. I already sense that in this article. You will be in my prayers. Thank you for sharing so deeply and honestly.
My first and continuing reaction is that you are so loved and so blessed by our God, and even now with this unknown and scary turn in your life, he is saying “Philip, I’ve got this.” I want you to know that I will be praying for you and for Janet every day, along with my family and friends. I will pray for strength, healing or slowing of this disease, wisdom, comfort and peace. Remember always, that you are the Beloved. Always.
Last, I grew up in an evangelical church and accepted Jesus as my savior. As a young person, I tried and failed to hang on to my faith, Later, as an adult, it was your words in “Grace Notes” that God used to get my attention and capture my heart in returning to him. I still read it daily, along with many of your other books and writings and am blessed to be born at this time in the world when Jesus used you to share his good news to the world.
God bless you Philip. He is with you.
Your friend in Christ,
Thank you, Mr Yancey, for once again speaking with truth, vulnerability and love about the human condition. I am a 43-year old (happily married with 2 amazing teenagers) who was diagnosed with grade 4 glioblastoma brain cancer about a year ago. My disability is largely “invisible” to those outside my family because it affects my right frontal lobe – an area of executive functioning, and only mildly so far. But I resonate deeply with the Psalmist’s words about shame (when I make errors in judgment) as well as a deep gratitude every day for the life and function I still have. I’ve never had to trust God so much with myself and my family. I’ve never before felt like one of the “least of these” who has a special intimacy with Christ.
Your writing has inspired me my entire adult life ever since I read The Jesus I Never Knew in a college class at George Fox University, through last year reading your beautiful memoir. I hope you write more from this new perspective in life.
Philip, that was a really insightful and powerful piece of writing. I was especially struck by the distinction between pain redeemed and pain removed and by the reflection that those who live with pain tend to be better stewards of their life circumstances. I know that you will continue to live your life with grace and mindfulness, despite your disability. Much love and light to you, Janet, and Joannie.
Thanks so much for sharing this. I love the term dislabeled. One of my sisters has RA, lupus and Parkinson’s. She, like Marshall, has a very high IQ and is so gifted in many ways, yet she makes very poor decisions in certain areas of her life, with horrible consequences. I never think of her as disabled. May God continue to bless all of you in this new way of living. Helen Honea Knight
This saddens me but also I rejoice in reading the gratitude that you have for life. I’ve read all your books and they speak to me and turn me towards God who will never cast me aside. My husband and I are also finding new “hurts, aches, pains, medical issues” and this blog has helped me look past the sadness or frustration to looking forward to whatever God has for us and the hope and promise of seeing Him when my time is over on this earth. Thank you for being a blessing and being used for His glory.
Thank you for this very moving blog. Really appreciate it. Life throws us all challenges at times and we have had a share! Currently navigating systems for our health issues as we grow older.
Blessings to you both and be assured we will be praying for you both.
I’m sure you recall when Arthur Ashe acquired HIV/AIDS via a blood transfusion when it was automatically a death sentence, and even friends fearfully kept their distance. Years ago I found this excerpt from Arthur Ashe’s biography (Days of Grace), and have kept it ever since, using it in countless sermons and pastoral visits, committing it to memory by quoting it so often. (You likely can recite it as well.) Though you have a far greater handle on the “why” question than most, I feel compelled to leave Mr. Ashe’s words here – if not for you, perhaps for someone who may need this:
“Quite often, people who mean well will inquire of me whether I ever ask myself, in the face of my diseases, ‘Why Me?’ I never do. If I ask ‘Why me?’ as I am assaulted by heart disease and AIDS, I must ask ‘Why me?’ about my blessings, and question my right to enjoy them. The morning after I won Wimbledon in 1975 I should have asked ‘Why me?’ and doubted that I deserved the victory. If I don’t ask ‘Why me?’ after my victories, I cannot ask ‘Why me?’ after my setbacks and disasters.”
God bless you, friend. And THANK YOU for sharing your joy, pain, and your hard-won insights.
Your words even in your suffering continue to inspire me. Thank you
Mr. Yancey, I have read your works for many years and always received inspiration from them. In light of your diagnosis you describe in this blog, I believe you would find encouragement from the life of William “Bill” Hull, theologian, pastor, scholar, writer, who chronicled his own approaching death as ALS consumed his body. His writing continued through the process, which I believe could inspire you. Mountain Brook Baptist Church in Birmingham AL and Samford University published his last books, particularly his posthumously published 2014 book, The Quest for a Good Death: A Christian Guide.
His home church, Mountain Brook Baptist, has a beautiful article about his life. (search mbbc [dot] org)
I was so sorry to read about this newest trial of yours, Philip! I’m so glad that you have a loving, caring wife, supportive friends, and, best of all, our God Who loves you, and faith in Him! You also have my love and prayers…and gratitude for the books you have written and the encouragement I have received from them! God bless you always!
Phillip, you are so gifted at sharing this experience in your life. To be thankful for the life God has given you. To be thankful for Janet. Your gift of expressing your thoughts and feelings on the page is still you. Thank you.
Thank you for sharing this. I am so grateful for your writings.
Philip always causes me to think a bit differently. Reading this message helps me as a caregiver for my Mom. God is good, all the time.
Thank you Philip for sharing
Sorry to hear this Philip, as a South African Pastor, your writing has been and will continue to be a great blessing to me and many others. Thank you for your grace and vulnerability in sharing this, it is very encouraging. God continue to bless you and use you greatly as you navigate the next chapter in your story!
Thank you for mentioning aphasia as I have now (self) diagnosed what I have after a stroke some 10 years ago! And for also mentioning an omnicompetent wife – that is my situation!
Oh Philip, even with the blow of your diagnosis, you know how to so eloquently put it into words so that I am praising God for you. You are my favorite author and I pray I someday meet you. That is really a prayer I pray often. You have no idea how you changed my life through your words, how you have strengthened my faith and given me the strength to persevere through some dark, dark, dark days. I share you with everyone I know. There are so many great medicines but even better natural alternative functioning medical advice now, I hope you seek them out for comfort. God is already using you mightily. I pray you will continue speaking in various places and that God will allow me to be in one of those one day soon. If you are in Dallas anytime soon – please let me know.
Thank you for being open about this new challenge. I appreciate your honest, realistic and hope filled attitude. Having a skilled and loving wife and a wide community of support makes all the difference. May you experience God’s grace in new ways.
Thank you for your honesty and faithfulness Philip. Your willingness to share openly about your struggles with God through your books have blessed me richly since that day many years ago when I saw your book “Disappointment with God” on a friends coffee table. My friend was living with MS and shared with me how much your book was blessing her. I bought a copy and put it on the shelf to read some day in the future. We’ll, that day came sooner than I realized when I entered my own journey with rare tumors that have affected my ability to walk more than a block. I believe the Lord will continue to use your gifts and passions to bless his Kingdom work in this next phase of your journey. Thank you again for being willing to be honest and vulnerable.
Mother always said, Grow old gracefully. You model that so well, as we follow and are deepened by your well chosen words. I found a new author (to me )that may add beauty and peace if you don’t already know of it. Malcolm Guite, David’s Crown. Priest, song writer, poet and remarkable man with a vibrant faith. Could be from middle earth. 😉
I met Malcolm in Oxford this summer. You’re right: he climbed right out of a Tolkien novel.
Thank you sire for baring your soul. Yes a faithful God will give you grace & mercy as you need it. “May I be a faithful steward of this latest chapter.” Yes, may you be found faithful… Share Heb. 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. Amen. God bless you & wife.
Always Philip Yancey, writer ex·tra·or·di·naire. I am sorry for your diagnosis. J Hales
Faith is real. Yours shines like a light in this dark world. Blessings and prayers my friend.
Prayers as you navigate a new life experience.
Oh Philip. Sending so much love and prayer.
Philip, You are in my prayers. We are each on a journey of God’s choosing and He will enable us to do what He has called us to do. Joan
Philip’s writings are an anchor for me when caught in many of life’s questions and doubts. May the grace you have exhibited toward others be returned to you a thousand-fold in the forms of strength and support. And may the knowledge of science, the miracle of our created bodies and the supernatural power of God bring the healing you require to redeem any pain. Thank you for all you share through your gift of writing.
Dear Philip. I read your post and thank you for your honest account of living with Parkinson’s. As a nurse in my younger days l cared for people with long term conditions and saw first hand the challenges they faced. Training as a counsellor l wrote about how disability was viewed and the marginalisation and discrimination faced. But this comment isn’t about that as much as it is about my gratitude for your writing. Your books have changed my life, my understanding of suffering, my own picture of the Jesus l never knew before and strengthened my faith. Thank you for those gifts and l pray you will continue to minister as you are able to those who need to hear your words. With much love in Christ. Alice
Phillip, Your transparency and openness means more than I can put to words. As we age, we claim the promises of our Lord that He will never leave us. My husband and I were so very fortunate to meet you and your wife outside Philadelphia many years ago! Your book on prayer (which you signed!) is at my bedside for quick reference and comfort! Carla T.
A huge thank you to your wife. You didn’t mention her name, but probably you had good reasons for doing so. Nevertheless, as a long time admirer of Philip’s writing thank you ma’am for your patience and perseverance throughout all these years. May God bless you abundantly for the years ahead.
Thank you for your courage and willingness to share this moment in your life with your readers. I pray that God will carry you on the path of his will so that you continue to bless others in a different way, and be blessed yourself.
Greetings from Curitiba, Brazil.
I have been so blessed by your writing and ministry over many years. My thoughts and prayers are with you in this challenge. How wonderful to be assured of God’s love, kindness and goodness and His promise to bring us through in triumph. With love and thanks…
Thank you for your honest sharing. May God continue to give you grace for each day and peace that passes understanding! Thank God for your ministry and all you give to us.
Praying for you, dear brother, who, when we were in college, bought my used reel-to-reel tape recorder. Blessings.
Thank you Philip, for your frank sharing of a neurological disease that so profoundly effects your life now. At 62 I try not to worry about any sickness or disease that may limit my active life, my enjoyment of reading and sports and sharing in the lives of my children and grandchildren.
I have been encouraged and much better aligned with the teachings of Jesus through your many books and thoughts over the years. Currently I’m enjoying your memoir and wish God’s blessings and comfort with you as you battle this disease and it’s affects
Philip, I recently finished ‘Where the Light Fell’, which I found extremely moving. Your choosing to share your Parkinson’s diagnosis with those of us who read your blog is proof, if it were needed, of the courage it takes to be vulnerable. I will of course pray for you, and I hope that, in spite of the inevitable difficulties and frustrations you will encounter, your life will continue to be fulfilled, and characterised by joy and wonder. I am British – are you familiar with the radio programme ‘Desert Island Discs’? On it, guests are invited to choose 8 pieces of music to take to their desert island. They’re also allowed one luxury and one book other than the Bible and the complete works of Shakespeare, both of which are provided. My desert island book would be ‘What’s so Amazing about Grace?’. Thank you for teaching me so much about grace and for modelling it so powerfully. God bless you.
Yesterday I sat for several hours, finishing “Where the Light Fell”, this morning I opened my iPad and read the report of your Parkinson’s diagnosis. I go back many years with you, beginning with Campus Life, then your books. My husband and I must have bought 30 copies of “What’s So Amazing About Grace” for family and friends.
You have had a major impact on our journey and we thank you. I’ve sent this urgent message on to family and friends, we live in a Retirement home and many Parkinson patients are our friends. Your message will help them.
Most sincerely, Julia and Dick Williams
Thank you for your vulnerability in sharing this health concern. Prayers for
your continued writing and living your “best life now” for Christ. You are
such a blessing to all of us who read your writings.
You remind me, again, that this day presents an opportunity for me to extend Grace to others. I have read your memoir & continue to use the Zondervon Student Bible (since 1994) that you and Tim Stanford edited. In Sunday School & Bible studies, my friends always pause & listen when I ask, “Would you like to hear the Philip Yancey box (found on almost every page of the Bible you edited)?” And they always say, “Yes.” My favorite “large Yancey box is titled “A Modern Peace Child.” It always delivers the correct message for everyone. You have blessed me in that, my first read through the Bible took 9 months & it was the NIV, but your editing and boxes carried me along. When I finished, I bought & use the same Bible in KJV. Finally, knowing that Rev. Billy Graham – at late age – referred to himself as a Bible “student,” I, at 74, proudly carry around and use the “Student” Bible you edited because it continues to be a Gold Mine for me and people in my orbit who are seeking better nuggets.
This news saddens my heart, for you have been such a light in my life for many, many years. Your books and articles have helped me to find my way when I was lost. I promise to hold you and Janet in prayer, and will certainly hold you in my heart. You are loved and cherished, Mr. Yancey.
Philip, your words made a story around that phrase “he’s got Parkinson’s,” which I’ve heard of two or three persons, at least, in the past three years. Until your writing, the sentence was just that, a sentence. Thank you for adding detail, giving the life of discipleship, obedience, and trust that is under the sentence.
…”learn to embrace the gifts and disabilities unique to us”. Thank you for sharing …Your openness and acceptance of your circumstances have moved me to look deeper into mine .
I’m sincerely sorry and grieved to hear Philip has Parkinson’s. I hope he will find God close in his suffering. I’m a Pastor. Had a stroke last June and still off work. I feel for you brother.
Thanks so much for your wonderful (as always) and revealing article. I’m 9 years younger than you and starting to deal with the reality of aging and a body that does not do what it used to do, what I wish it would do. Aging is a challenge that I want to do gracefully in a way that brings glory to God, but that does not seem an easy task. Your words help. I have two requests / suggestions.
1) It would be wonderful to know if there are any books you would recommend to deal with aging and a body that is gradually growing older. Ive heard of a few, but would love your suggestions and insights.
2) It would be even greater if you would write a book that deals with this issue. I have always enjoyed your books and insights, and know all the hard work you have put into them. I think you might have the potential to help lots of people with this constant struggle.
Thanks for everything.
In Christ, Doug Marshall
Try “Aging Faithfully” by Alice Fryling.
Ok I’ve been balking at acknowledging my need for a knee replacement for several months. I’ve been an avid walker, walking has been my exercise and even more my antidepressant and. anti stresser.. “I’m not old enough, it’s inconvenient, my family needs me to take care of them, I can’t afford to take off from my part time job, sometimes it doesn’t work well, it takes a long time to recover, I can’t decide on a doctor.” All great excuses I’ve been repeating as I limped around trying to walk even 30 minutes. That river denial has kept me afloat. Thanks for helping me steer myself to shore. I’ll be praying for you as we accept reality and count our blessings,
Courageous. Forthright. Persevering. Enduring. As you step into the unknown, enabled by God Himself, never alone even though feelings of abandonment may come and go, may God’s love and high calling meet you at every corner and turning giving abundant hope and encouragement beyond your imaginings. May His viewpoint be keenly seen, your ears be finely tuned to His whispers presenting a closer intimacy with Him so that peace reigns within. As your roots reach out for His living water, you will still have fruit and green leaf in drought time. Faithful is He who called you to be His very own. Thank you dear brother for who you are. Loved, chosen and with God’s perfection, we will praise Him in wholeness in eternity…and in our hour of need now. God bless you. He is keeping you. The great Enabler is lifting you to greater heights. Thank your for enduring fight for life..a living example being humbled under God’s almighty hand so that in due time………. In the meantime, 💞
Tears at this news yet, as always, encouraged by Philip’s words.
Phil (how appropriate) 3:14 “I Press On toward the goal for the prize of the Upward Call of God in Christ Jesus”. Written next to this verse a few years ago on my 50th birthday are the words “life all the way up! Let me not tiptoe!” My grandma lived with Parkinson’s for many years and lived fully wearing out numerous pairs of tennis shoes and mentally pouring into my life.
In my bible written next to the many kings of Israel I mark who finished well and who did not, always referring to their walk with the Lord.
Philip, your dependence on Him will guarantee that you will finish well, even if it’s with a shuffle and tremor.
Thank you for your transparency. I always learn from you and you have my attention and prayers.
Philip, my Dad ( Fred Smith,Sr.) coined a phrase for himself in his latter, immobilized years: ” I am not disabled; I am delightfully dependent.” Since you knew him I thought you would appreciate his thought.
You may remember Mom had Parkinson’s. Good medical care with loving support gave her years of life after the diagnosis. I will be praying.
Yet another word of wisdom from Fred…
Philip’s books have long been a blessing in my life and I have been amazed at his ability to capture and express so succinctly the experiences and deep thought/emotions others are unable to give voice to. He has truly been and is a vessel in the Lord’s work. To say I grieve his diagnosis is an understatement, but to say I think this will be one more avenue through which God will use him to minister is an even greater understatement. His gifts and graces will likely shine brighter as he leans on the Lord. May he know in the deep recesses of his being the presence, peace, and healing grace of our Lord. Prayers for him and his “caregiver.”
Thank you for communicating tough news, and help from Psalm 71 –I do and will pray for your “faithful stewardship of this last chapter.” And for your wife, too.
That sure captures my prayers for my husband and me.
Growing up with autism spectrum disorder, I definitely felt the self-conscious shame of which you now speak, but that challenge was present from childhood, and, as my parents can attest, it made me VERY anxious and uncomfortable in my world. I’ve certainly overcome a lot, but even now, it feels like I’m living with a deficit. I’ve come to embrace my “disability” as a part of me for which I don’t need to feel ashamed. I do relate to the feeling of anxious about the future, and as it always has been for me, that feeling can be intense at times. I’ve grown to be less dominated by it. Know that you still have many joys ahead of you, even with this challenge. Indeed, as I type this, my 8 year old daughter is snuggled against me. There’s something I never would’ve envisioned ten years ago. I’m sure you’ll be fine, and you have a prayer partner in me and my family, Philip.
Philip, so sorry. These things have a way for shaping our our heart, our character. A friend of mine, a woman around 60, now a VP of Cru, has Parkinson’s, has managed it well thru a boxing class/coach. I’m sure you will receive many suggestions. Blessings to you.
Thank you Philip for your honesty. I met you very briefly in Randburg, South Africa, have been blessed by your writing and now promise to pray for you as you deal daily with thus new challenge. The Lord bless you and keep you.
I am currently re-reading your book on Prayer for the third time, and once more the pages you wrote encourage me and challenge me. Yes, I have read all of your books, and this gives me the assurance that you will face this current chapter of your life journey leaning honestly on God, determinedly following the Lord Jesus, and constantly looking for the encouragement of the Holy Spirit.
Thank you for sharing this post. I do not doubt for one minute that it was easy to put together; the act of writing what is happening to you, I’m sure served to cause further deep and uncomfortable reflection. Thank you for your honesty; it has deeply touched my heart, and I will be praying for you as you step forward along the path that you are being asked to walk.
I write this from a small island off the south coast of England: the Isle of Wight. And as the blessings of your writings have reached here, so now prayers from my home will be asking our God for His comfort and encouragement in your life.
Dear Philip and Janet:
Debby and I are grateful for your life and witness in Christ Jesus. The psalms like 71 continue to ground me in reality, and your life and writings do that work too including this blog. Thanks for entrusting us with this intimate portrait. We will pray and look for an opportunity to enjoy your presence. I currently am spending time with Psalm 62–“my soul in silence waits.” Much love to you both, John
Your being among us and speaking at an Fellowship for Performing Arts meeting remains a treasured memory. Your books have inspired me to appreciate the life God has given me.
I’ll pray for you as you enter this new phase of your journey. May all things good come your way.
I am so sorry to hear that you’re having to cope with this illness but applaud the way you are approaching it.
You have been and remain a blessing to so many of us, and Im sure a myriad of orayers will be offered uo for you.
Mine will be among them.
God bless you and your wife.
Don’t give up Pickleball, Philip! No diving for those drop shots, definitely, but don’t give it up quite yet. A friend of mine, now 66, whom I’ve cycled hundreds of miles with across Colorado, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s several years ago, and he’s just now taken up Pickleball to supplement his cycling, down from “easy” 50-mile rides to challenging ones of 17 miles. He’s a good Catholic, husband, and he is as active today as he was before his life-defining diagnosis.
As you’ve probably already learned, physical exercise and movement can help with not only your Parkinson’s but also cognition, depression, fatigue, and sleep, not to mention self-esteem. Reluctant at first, my friend ended up taking up Rock Steady Boxing, which has increased his agility, endurance, hand-eye coordination — and self-esteem.
Think of the new friendships you’ll make as you spar with others living life now differently abled. Weird to think of you living the life that most of my friends have not lived for years, as a survivor of brain injury (as a caregiver/partner) and now with Parkinson’s. Maybe we’ll get a chance to chat the next time I’m up visiting Dave and Sandy Schumacher. It might be time to get a book written on your new-found identity in Christ!
As always, it’s very well said. Makes me think about the way I define people with their handicap.
Of course I’m very sorry to hear that Philip have to deal with that. The Lord is able to heal him but it seems like Philip will have to wait for the resurrection.
Big hug and prayers from France.
You are still you and I am extremely grateful for you. Vanderbilt in Nashville does a procedure where they implant electrodes (maybe?) in the brain and can control nerves from where they are, to help with Parkinson’s. Deep brain stimulation it is called. It isn’t a cure but it helps with symptoms. If you haven’t checked into it yet, it might be worth looking into. Praying for you.
Philip Yancey, what a good summary of a deterioration of a physical body yet you face the challenge with such courage …
Only God gives us that strength- as a survivor of cancer( twice ) a widow ( God blessed me with a wonderful husband now ) and 2 falls and ongoing arthritis and deterioration of a hip( yes I have a cane) God bless you in this journey – suffering draws us closer to Him- any pride about my “ good health “ had to be let go of – I am been reading your works for years – I loved your memoir and will reread yours again bd plan to write my own memoir – Bless you on this new journey …..Deborah Saunders ( a huge follower of yours)
So very sad to read that this new season of your life has Parkinson’s. Giving up the joys that you loved is tough. I know that myself. God has provided you a wife with talents in looking after people and one who is willing to care for you. You are blessed indeed. The Bible and your books Philip have been my source of love and wisdom for decades in my seasons of life. Thank you. Keep going until God says no more is all I can say. Rest when you must and enjoy when you can. We all have to pass from this life to the next. It’s like giving birth to a baby. One of my babies was difficult to birth the other was a joy. Death is birthing and it is either achieved quietly or with difficulty. Blessings upon you and you wife in this new season you both have journeyed into.
Thank you for blessing so many people through your writing. I join many others in praying for God’s continued strength for you in this new challenge. Your honesty and commitment to faithfulness inspire me, and I pray you’ll sense God’s smile and loving presence as you persevere.
Oh my! The intense reality of being disabled! Since I’ve been ‘impaired’ by my use of drugs to ‘fix’ what ailed me in my 20’s, I’ve had to depend on the God of my understanding and mis-understanding to show me how to live, daily. The desperation of insanity drove me to seek sanity, one day at a time. Philip, your book, What’s So Amazing about Grace, encouraged me because you mentioned how there were people ‘meeting in churches who smoke a lot of cigarette’s and drink a lot of coffee who dispense grace at every meeting’.’ Disability moved me into those rooms and I’ve never left. I pray your disability will move you into that room of desperate dependence of God, our Refuge and strength. Something tells me you’ve already been in that room for a long time. God bless this journey for you! You’re an astoundingly succinct writer who grabs my attention in each book you write. I thank God for you and pray this journey will continue, gracefully.
Philip, your journey and the ways you’ve expressed it in writing have been an enormous gift to me and countless others. Once again, your vulnerability and transparency have elevated conversation around aging and disability. I am 66 years and retired from full-time pastoral ministry in 2020. I’m caring for a 90-year-old mother-in-law and an 85-year-old father alone with my wife these days. We’re also helping raise our three grandsons (ages 3, 6, 10) with our surgeon son and daughter-in-law here in Chapel Hill, NC. The shift in my thinking about himself and the deepening of my relationship with God have been challenging to say the least. But I’m continuing to learn and grow as you have. I will pray for you and Janet in the days ahead. God is with us. God is for us. Love in Christ, Greg Gallaher
P.S. I became acquainted with your writing while attending Columbia Bible College (1980-83). Where is God When It Hurts? was an amazing little book, but What’s So Amazing About Grace? is my all-time favorite Yancey book! I have read it more than once and have given several copies to parishioners over the years. I graduated from CBC in 1983. Like you, it’s taken me more than a few years to put that experience in perspective.
Very moving. I see application for myself and those living near me in a retirement community now. Yet, I see application as well for a friend with a disabled son. Another friend has Aphasia. So strange that names and faces just do not come together. May God give grace and peace to Philip and his dear wife!
Philip…I have read so many of your books and loved them all…especially Soul Survivors and Where the Light Fell. I’m sorry to hear of your health challenges, and I am familiar with the feelings they bring. I was very athletic in my forties, and then in what seems like quick succession, broke my neck and later, because of a brain tumor, have had two brain surgeries. I couldn’t walk for three years after the first one. I know that feeling of shame that comes with walking funny and watching able bodied people do the things you used to do easily…and how my friendships changed because people saw me differently. It’s challenging, but like you, I’m determined to live my best life for God. And it’s a beautiful one…a gift.
Philip, very sorry to hear this news. It’s curious how rapidly we seem to have arrived at that age at which friends and contemporaries are suddenly confronting a slew of diagnostic challenges. Your comments on disability put me in mind of one of Koop’s most moving pieces, Who are the disabled among us?
Prayers and warm wishes to you both as you move ahead.