It’s easy to get lost in hopelessness given many of the events of recent days.
The United States has been left in shock following the mass murder in Orlando that targeted the LGBTQ community, the killing of unarmed black men by police, and the killing of five police officers by a sniper at a peaceful protest. On the heels of these events, the world witnessed an attack on a crowd of spectators at a celebration in Nice, France, which killed at least 84 people. And we don’t have to go far back into our memories to recall the attack in Paris which killed 130 people. This month Baghdad also experienced its deadliest bombing in years, which killed 140 people. And every single day, refugees are losing their lives, trying to escape war and destruction.
It’s easy to fall face fist into lament. How long, Oh Lord?
We weren’t created to die. Death wormed into the world when we tore away from communion with God. It’s not supposed to be here. It tears apart, destroys, wreaks havoc, brings grief. It brings cries of despair and loneliness and mourning. The Bible is loaded with lament. “My eyes fail from weeping, I am in torment within, my heart is poured out on the ground…” (Lamentations 2:11)
And we lament because this is not the way it’s supposed to be. We cry out for mercy, and justice, and peace.
But our God is not a God of darkness. Our God is not a God of hopelessness.
Our God is a God who hears our prayers. He heard them from the beginning. Our God always hears. He says, “Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground!” (Genesis 4:10). Our God brings justice and mercy and peace. He brings peace even in the presence of death and grief and mourning, but ultimately, God will bring peace that erases all death and grief and mourning.
And although it feels like the world is getting worse and worse, some things are getting better and better.
According to The World Bank,
Infant mortality rate has decreased continually since 1960.
Life expectancy for both men and women has gone up.
And, although there is still work to be done, poverty has decreased worldwide.
We are seeing advancements in medical care, the spread of education and opportunities, and activism for continued improvement on every front.
Since death wormed its way in at the beginning, God has been steadily working a plan of redemption. The work of death is being undone. And although we are living in our present reality, we know there is a greater reality beyond this, one towards which history has been steadily progressing.
God calls us to partner in the process.
We have been called to fight for human rights, to end slavery, to protect children, to advance the rights and freedoms of women and of the oppressed. We have been called to study creation, to advance scientific development, to create masterful art, music, and literature, to grow knowledge and create beauty. We have been called to love our neighbors, to give shelter to foreigners, to offer food to the poor, and to care for the orphan. We have been called to make this broken world a better and safer place for its broken inhabitants with every step and every breath we take. Because that’s God’s work. “He has showed you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8).
And as we walk humbly with the God who hears us, we share in God’s redemption work, that has begun in us through Jesus, and will be completed in all the world when Jesus returns.
“Now the dwelling of God is with people, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:3-4).
There is a time for lament. And lately many moments have been filled with lament. There is a place for grief and mourning. And as our world becomes smaller and smaller, our grief and mourning is shared on a level like never before. It feels bigger and bigger, as we share in all the world’s sadness over our morning coffee. But we have not been abandoned or forsaken. Take hope in our God who hears.
And be encouraged. Be strong. Continue on in the good work that you have been called to.
Thanks be to God for those who fight for freedom and justice.
Thanks be to God for those who research diseases, discover cures, and heal bodies.
Thanks be to God for those who counsel and pastor the broken.
Thanks be to God for those who create songs of lament and songs of hope.
Thanks be to God for those who minister through their art.
Thanks be to God for those who work to end poverty.
Thanks be to God for those who protect, and those who guard.
Thanks be to God for those who stand for what is good, and right, and holy.
Thanks be to God for all who are working towards a better world, for all who are plugging along on the path towards redemption, waiting for Jesus to complete the final work. Let us cry out honestly in our grief and sadness, and then let us pick up our heads, take hold of our God who hears, and join together in making this world better.
Have hope and peace in Jesus. There is trouble in this world, but take heart! He has overcome it. (John 16:33).