Lessons of one eventful day

August 31st, 2015

Yesterday was a day that seemed to serve up a constant reminder that I live in a broken world. As a former Christian Scientist, I process days like yesterday much differently now.

I used to more-or-less ignore “the illusions of sin, disease and death” that crossed my path. After all, they were “unreal.” But now, I can’t ignore these very real reminders of the impact of the fall on God’s Creation.

First, our family learned that a relative of ours, Debbie Miller, has stage 4 cancer and has a life expectancy of six-to-twelve months. We’ve gotten to know Debbie during our family reunion trips to the Outer Banks, and I don’t know if I’ve met a kinder, more loving, more generous person. She is a faithful servant and follower of Jesus. Now she will probably die of cancer. And I wonder, “Why?”

Then the news broke about this terrible shooting outside Roanoke, VA. Two young journalists, Alison Parker and Adam Ward, conducting an innocuous live TV interview on tourism for the local early morning news were shot and killed on-air by a disgruntled former colleague. Vicki Gardner, the local Chamber of Commerce president being interviewed, was also shot, but thankfully is expected to recover. The shooter later took his own life after being pursued by police. The man had been fired from the station over anger issues, and seemed to partially blame the two victims for his termination. He also listed several other issues as reasons for his violent attack, and seemed to have an appreciation for those who have committed mass shootings in recent years. Why?

Finally, around noon I got an email from a Christian ministry we have supported in the past. For the third time in a week I was reading how a Christian brother had been forced to resign from a key position in ministry due to “moral failure.” It seems there are the names of many Christian leaders and pastors included in the Ashley Madison data dump. (If you haven’t followed this story, hackers are releasing names and other personal information of subscribers to a website whose slogan is “Life’s short. Have an affair.” The site allows married subscribers to find others interested in “discretely” violating their marriage vows.) Why?

Disease and death. Violence and anger. Lust and infidelity. There are other daily reminders, of course: injustice; hatred; poverty; oppression; greed; natural disasters; etc. All manifestations of the reality of sin. All reminders that we live in an actual fallen, broken world. And with that the question of “why” is answered. While it breaks my heart every time I am reminded of this brokenness, as a Christian I know why these things happen. Until Jesus returns, there will be tribulation. I will be witnesses to the pain and suffering of the fallen creation. I cannot simply ignore it. But I can take heart, for my Savior has overcome the world! (John 16:33)

The Good News gives me comfort that these things won’t last. Jesus came to defeat the power of sin. He took the sin of the world on himself as he died on the cross. He is coming back to usher in a New Creation, where He will wipe away every tear from [our] eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. (Rev. 21:4) Mary Baker Eddy was wrong in declaring these things “unreal,” but she was correct in saying they are “temporal.”

On a day like yesterday, I find myself falling back on a single three-word prayer, “Come Lord Jesus.” And he does. He reminds me that He is still sovereign. He reminds me that He is present in the midst of the suffering. He gives me glimpses of His glory breaking through the darkness of this world. He reminds me that He is faithful. He reminds me simply that He is. He reminds me that all these broken things will pass away. He gives me faith to believe, strength to endure, and hope to move forward. On a day when the impact of sin is very real, I am reminded that my Savior is very real too.

On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken. It will be said on that day, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” – Isaiah 25:6-9

The author can be reached at centennial@ccu.edu

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