Our nation is reeling in shock over the latest and severest mass murder. Millions are still reeling in the wakes of three devastating hurricanes. Millions more are reeling in the disaster of addictions that were enabled by a playboy whose work has destroyed marriages and minds. Millions more are trying to figure out how people of different races and cultures can be so divided. Earthquakes have devastated Mexico and around the world, people hold their breaths and wonder when the next devastating war will erupt. And in every family, someone we know and love is struggling against disease of some sort.
It often feels as if our whole world is coming apart. Why? It feels that way because it IS coming apart, and it’s been doing so since the Fall. We live in a fallen world where humanity’s sin wreaks havoc every day. Paul wrote that the entire creation is groaning as if in the pangs of childbirth. So people can carry out their anger or selfishness with a rifle, or a porn king can enslave men and women with a twisted expression of sex, or an atmosphere that provides healthy rain can also explode in a fury of devastating wind and flood. This world IS hurtling toward destruction.
And God’s answer to that destruction is hope. Hope is not a wisp of wishful thinking, not a naive denial of pain, not a group-think blast of positive thinking. God answers all of this with a final destination for history and the availability of a rescuer who can secure us against all of these terrible circumstances. He answers the ongoing tsunami of pain and devastation with glimpses of His healing power, with grace that shows through in sacrificial service, in clear pet scans, in devoted compassion from people who refuse to run from our pain. He answers with the Jesus who still offers forgiveness and the CERTAIN hope that He secured in the resurrection.
Why doesn’t He stop this now? I don’t know. What I do know is that every time we endure these terrible circumstances, He is extending the opportunity to people who can trust Him. Every time we see the horrific nature of hatred or violence, we also see the beautiful picture of loving compassion. The pain is part of the joy. We grieve and ache with sorrow, and we look forward into the day God has promised when all of this will be redeemed. One of my favorite scholars, Jim Denison, reminds me often that “God redeems all that He allows.” And God does promise that the day of His redemption draws nearer. Waiting is hard, but waiting in HOPE is far better than waiting without hope.
Our associate pastor and I have addressed this kind of pain often because we face this kind of pain often. The links below may give you more to chew on as you wrestle with our crumbling world.