What do you do when the world seems to be falling apart?
I don’t mean your world, necessarily, but the world as a whole. Have you listened to the news lately? I keep up with current events, and the past several weeks have been very alarming. Most recently, there was the apparent suicide of comedian Robin Williams this past Monday. I remember watching Good Will Hunting when I was 13, and experiencing the joy of him as an actor. His comedy was unmatched, and his dramatic roles were incredibly authentic. Then, when I heard he committed suicide, I wondered, “How can a man who has brought so much joy not experience it himself?”
Worse yet, there is a growing fight in the Middle East. Before I talk about it, I will mention that I don’t care about the politics of this topic. In the Middle East right now, there is a “new” terrorist group called ISIS. They’re insistent that America is evil and we should all die. On top of that, they have been linked to another terrorist group called the Hamas. The Hamas group is fighting a different war right now. They’re currently based in Palestine, and their hobby of the month is launching rockets from buildings like hospitals and schools at civilians in Israel. There have been many casualties, and even more disheartening is the cease-fire efforts. Both sides attempt to create a temporary ceasefire, just for respite. The first 72-hour ceasefire that was agreed on lasted around 2 hours. The latest ceasefire lasted around 70, but after that it was straight back to killing. What kind of world is this?
Now, I know that practically speaking, my day-to-day life isn’t changed much by both of these events. I am incredibly thankful for that, but there is pain here too. At the top of my list is the recent fact that my grandfather, one of the wisest, strongest, and best men I’ve known, is being decimated by lung cancer, and no matter the treatment, the news is the same. There isn’t anything we can do to stop it.
I am blessed that my individual life is going well, but the world seems to be crashing down around me. It doesn’t happen often, but every once in a while I start to feel hopeless. I look at these scenarios and think, “Where is Jesus in all of this?” One of the defining things about ISIS is they hate Christians. Their big thing right now is finding and killing any Christian they can. The hard part is, you know those Christians prayed. They probably prayed harder, more earnestly, and if I can jab at how we talk about prayer, with “more faith” than we have. When I try and empathize, my heart breaks. I want to yell at God, not knowing how He, the perfect loving creator I believe him to be, can listen to those cries and seemingly do nothing.
I hope I have made you feel the tension I feel lately, and I want to share with you the resolution. The first one is simple, but deep. As Christians, we believe that Christ died to make all things new. If that’s correct, that means we must have hope in the face of a world that’s falling apart. That’s the reality. That’s what sin is doing to the world. The cool part is this isn’t the final state of things. Eventually Jesus will fix it all. That knowledge, if we let it take root, gives us hope in even the worst situations. The second resolution is linked. Jesus, while he will eventually fix it all, isn’t content to wait. He didn’t just die on the cross to eventually save us. He died so he could start renewing things immediately.
So what does Jesus’ renewal look like? To me, a renewed world is one that is full of Love. This isn’t cheap, worldly love, which is the word I use interchangeably for music, tacos, and my friends. This is the deep, deep love that God has for his children, like a good father towards his kids. This kind of love isn’t natural. It shouldn’t be able to exist in this broken, sinful world. And yet, this kind of love pokes through into our world like a light through clouds. This is the love that I got to experience this past weekend with my cancer-ridden grandpa. This past weekend was his and my grandma’s 60th wedding anniversary. My grandpa, his loving wife, their three boys (one of whom is my dad), and all of their grandkids got together to celebrate them. I will never forget that night, or the look of pure joy on my dying grandpa’s face as we sat as a family and watched old 8mm tapes of my grandparent’s vacations, early Christmases, and other big moments. The love of Christ was there. It’s the same love that, in the midst of a country that’s tearing itself apart, is showing up in people. Honestly, I don’t have a specific story I can tell you from the Middle East that tells of how Christ’s love is showing up there. However, I know Jesus. I know that wherever there are Christians, He is there too, meeting people in the midst of their unbelievable pain. He doesn’t avoid the hard situations. He walks towards them.
Jesus wants to renew the world, and he wants to start now. The catch is that he isn’t here anymore. Who do you think Jesus wants to start renewing the world?
I want to challenge you this week as I challenge myself. First, we must have hope in all situations. And whether or not the situations around you are big or small, I challenge you to walk into the darkness, the hurt, the confusion, and take the light of Jesus there.