I’ve said a lot of this before, but it bears mentioning again during times such as this. Events like yesterday validate what we all know to be true, this world is broken. I hate to say it, but suffering isn’t something that happens, every once in a while, in Columbine or Aurora or Joplin or Newtown or Boston or Moore. Suffering is a part of life.
Every man and woman is forced to reckon with the headaches, heartaches, scars, and gray hairs that come from suffering. When a high-schooler gets dumped and has to deal with rejection for the first time, she’s forced to reckon with suffering. When you work your tail off to get the promotion, but then it’s handed to the lazy bum in the corner cubicle who plays Fantasy Football all day, you’re forced to reckon with furious suffering. When a husband of ten years leaves his wife on a whim, when a young mom gets bad news from the doctor, or when a record-setting tornado rips through a town, leaving it in complete devastation, we are all forced to reckon with suffer.
To be honest, suffering is reality, on the ground, for you and me. And in moments like these, when tragedies like the Moore tornado happen, the promises of scripture feel empty. Weak. Impotent. And God seems cold, careless, and distracted. And so we scream out in anger “Why!?”” And we point fingers in blame! And we just weep.
Events like yesterday validate what we all know to be true, this world is broken…
But ironically, so does the cross. The cross cries loud and clear that the brokenness of this world is so very real that something immeasurably large had to be done about it. And even if the cross doesn’t give a clear answer as to why the world is still so very broken, it does eliminate one popular suspicion – that God doesn’t care. Because he does. He cares unto death. He cares enough to suffer alongside us.
So on a day like today, let me ask, what do you place your hope in? It bears reflecting upon. Take a moment and yourself, what do you believe?
Do you believe that when you die you’re gone? And your body just rots away? And this world just continues to pass away into nothingness? And no one will ever remember anything that anyone has ever done? Or do you believe that everything you do right now matters? Because there is a God, our God, who has begun the process of cosmic restoration? And He will make all things new? And all His creation groans in anticipation with all His people, awaiting His glorious return? A return that will carry with it a new heaven and earth? A place where there will be no more death, or sorrow, or crying, or pain, or tornadoes?
It bears asking because these are two utterly different beliefs, and depending on which one you place your hope in, it will radically change the way you live right now in the present and the way you process events like yesterday. In fact, that is the point of hope, isn’t it. Hope creates a future that will change your present. So what do you believe today? What do you hope in?
Remember today that we serve a God who is suffering with us. And thank God today that we serve a God who suffered for us, victoriously. With tear-soaked eyes, let’s pray for the suffering and cling to our hope found in the cross. The painful images of yesterday are not the end.
The paradox of suffering is that it can tear you down or spur you forward depending on how you interpret it and who you lean into. I pray that this tragedy will motivate real disciples to cross-shaped responses in the name of the crucified and risen Lord.
But with eager hope, 21 the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. 22 For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. 24 We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. 25 But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)
26 And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. 27 And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. 28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. 29 For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.
31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? 33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34 Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.
35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
38And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
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