I’m grieving right now.
I’m grieving for the world.
I’m grieving for the United States.
I’m grieving for the people of El Paso and Dayton and countless other cities where too many people have lost their lives because we, in America, are addicted to our guns and our violence. I’m also grieving for the first responders.
These brave men and women give so selflessly of themselves to serve their communities. They suffer more than most of you reading this post will ever know. Many of them suffer in silence. Many of them drown their suffering in alcohol or pills or sex or suicide or whatever they can find to dull the pain.
I know they do this. I know because I did it.
Here’s the thing. Humans weren’t made for this. We weren’t made to murder each other. We weren’t made to take lives, including our own, through violence or any other means. How do I know this? Because I am a Christian and I believe God’s Word.
In the beginning, God created. He created all things that existed and He created mankind. He created mankind in His own image, to model and show the world what He was like. And when He had created mankind, He said it was “very good.” If you’ve never read the story or have never really reflected on it or just want to read it again, I invite you to read Genesis 1-3.
But something went wrong.
We chose. Adam chose. Mankind chose to turn our backs on our good Creator and go it our own way. Our pride drove us to make a decision that has proven to be catastrophic for the world. We chose disobedience over obedience. We chose our own will over God’s will. We chose our own way over God’s way. And sin entered the world.
Now look where we are.
We murder and slander and scream and eradicate and destroy and crush our fellow man and the world that God has created that He called good. We flounder around searching for answers to our own problems and yet turn our eyes and hearts away from the very person that can and has and will answer every question that we have, every answer we seek.
Here’s the reality. There are no answers to our problems in America or in the world without the person of Jesus Christ.
Education can’t be the answer. We’ve tried that. We are the most educated and advanced society the world has ever known. Yet, murder and suicide and assaults and vitriol and racism have never been more rampant. We are so busy shouting at each other and accusing one another and pointing fingers that we cannot see the forest for the trees. If education could solve our problems, we would not see racism and all the other problems we see.
Tolerance can’t be the answer. We’ve tried that. Only our so-called tolerance isn’t really tolerance. We are only tolerant of those who are like us, who agree with us. And so our shouting and biting words tear us apart.
There are no answers to our problems apart from the person of Jesus Christ.
While we grieve (rightly so) and demand change (also rightly so), let’s also not forget that there is very real human collateral damage here. Children are dying. Teenagers are dying. Adults are dying. First responders and soldiers suffer within their own hearts and minds the fall out of having to deal with constant death and depravity.
There are no answers to our problems apart from the person of Jesus Christ. It is only in Him that we will find the peace with ourselves and one another that we so desperately need and crave. So while we have our debates about gun control, racism and many other things, let us hear again the words of our Saviour.
“Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
A Prayer for the Human Family (Book of Common Prayer):
O God, you made us in your own image, and you have redeemed us through your Son Jesus Christ: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Soli Deo Gloria!
The pain is real.
The body of Christ is full of broken bones, sprained joints and hearts that are barely beating.
I want you to know, if you’re a pastor or priest or deacon or bishop in Christ’s Church, that I know your pain. And I want those who are a part of the body, the members of the Church, to know that your pastor, priest, deacon or bishop is in pain.
I am struck, when I read the Bible, of the amount of pain that is there. In the Old Testament, under the old covenant, the people of Israel were being shaped, made into the image of their Creator. And it was painful. Just go read the OT. It feels like a long sad story of getting a continual beat-down. God promised Abraham a people, but He also promised Abraham that those people would suffer. He also promised that the suffering of His people would not be in vain because He said He would rescue them, save them for His own glory, so that they would be a witness and a blessing to the world.
And along the way there was pain. God’s chosen people suffered in slavery to the Egyptians. It wasn’t their fault. Don’t get me wrong, they weren’t perfect. They were sinners just like you and me. Moses, their great deliverer, was a murderer among other problems he had. But God never forgot them, despite the pain they went through and despite how long it took God to act on their behalf.
God never forgot them.
Hang on to that for a minute.
I think it’s interesting to note, in Exodus 13, that God showed Himself in some ways to the people of Israel. I think those are relevant to us today. Read Exodus 13:17-22. I want us to see some things here. I want us to see that:
1. God is always guiding His people.
2. God is always faithful to His people.
3. God is always present with His people.
It’s funny in a not LOL way that, when the people left Egypt after being set free, God led them the long way. Read the text. God took them the long route.
Why would He do that?
Because sometimes the long way is the only way. Because there is more to life than getting from point A to point B. God had something to show His people and, for them to learn it effectively, they had to go the long way. They had to go the long way so that they would learn to depend on God in the midst of their suffering, so that they would see their need for a Saviour. Granted, they didn’t learn this lesson well. But we can learn by their story. So if you’re going through something right now that feels long, don’t hate the dry and barren place. God has something to teach you by taking the long way. So even as you journey in whatever desert you’re in, know that God is always guiding His people.
God is also always faithful. Now, I gotta be honest. I don’t feel this way sometimes. My family and I are going through something right now that is so hard and painful that I don’t even know how to put it into words. At times, the pain is more than we can take. My wife and I have cried with and to each other and cried out to God a lot recently. Sometimes I feel like God isn’t very faithful. But then I read texts like this and pretty much all of Psalms and I’m reminded.
It’s okay to cry out in your pain. But even as you cry out, never forget that God is faithful.
God is always present with His people. We probably won’t get a pillar of fire and cloud to show us that God is always present with us. But we have an even greater hope. Jesus promised us that, when He went away, He would send another Helper.
Maybe you’re like me right now. Maybe you need comfort during your pain. This may not sound super helpful to you right now but if you’ll just sit in this place for awhile, God will rescue you. I want to be clear; He may not take this away from you. What you’re going through may be good for you in the long run because you and I need to recognize our need for a Saviour.
Remember, there is more to life than getting from point A to point B.
But God is always guiding His people. He is always faithful and He is always present.
The Bible is our proof of this. We know the rest of the story, don’t we? We know where this all ends. We know the One who came, God in the flesh, Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He has taken all the pain on Himself. He has taken all your sin and my sin. He knows your pain and mine.
So I want you to know that I know your pain is real. The body of Christ is made up of broken and sinful people who sin and hurt each other. But know that Jesus loves you and He will save you. It may not be today or tomorrow but one day, all that pain and confusion and hurt will dissolve in the light of the joy of the presence of the risen Christ.
In this world we will have trouble. But take heart, friends. Jesus has overcome the world.
Soli Deo Gloria!