There’s a whole lot of horrible happening right now.
Actually, the world horrible seems like an incredible disservice at this point.
Unfortunately it takes big tragic events for us to stop and realize how small the world truly is. In fact last year our house hosted some friends from Paris for the weekend. He lost his life in that concert hall. A man who we knew, who stayed at our house for a weekend, who relished in the fact that Americans eat mac-n-cheese, isn’t here anymore.
The world is infinitely smaller than we ever could imagine. Sometimes I wish it were bigger so we could fade away into the background. I wish we could be solitary creatures without connection. But the moments, these histories, they remind us just how much we touch each other. We can’t escape the fact that each life is precious and connected and of inherent and intrinsic value.
So we find ourselves here yet again wondering, whispering among ourselves, “How can this happen?” Many of us can feel the bitterness growing inside us. After all there’s plenty of soil for those bitter roots to grow deep. We’ve known too much loss. We’ve seen too much tragedy. Each dark day on the calendar seems to be a thunderstorm watering those roots and they push deeper into the core of who we are.
We have every right to be bitter.
But we also have every right to mourn. Where we find ourselves right now is somewhere in the middle of a funeral. For some of us it might be literal. For those who are mourning the loss of loved ones you must know this isn’t the way it was intended to be. For those of us mourning something different, something like the future we envisioned our children growing up in, or the way we thought the world would operate, we too find ourselves at a funeral.
As kids we thought we could change the world. We wanted to grow up to be doctors and lawyers who stopped the bad guys. We’re mourning the loss of our hopes, our dreams, our peace of mind, our universal freedom. We’re grieving the lack of peace and justice in the world. It's easy to grow bitter when we realize there's nothing we could do. Bitterness is natural when the way we envisioned our lives turns out to be vastly different than our present realities.
Loss must be mourned accordingly or the bitterness will overtake us.
The violence, the injustices, the freak accidents, and the cold calculated plots have all gone on for far too long. And when I say far too long I mean thousands of years too long. Because when we stop and think about it, there’s been brokenness ever since sin crept into the picture. There’s been loss and heartache and hurt and pain time and time again.
But in the midst of so much uncertainty there are a few things I am certain of.
For God to be God He cannot be any less good than He was 30 years ago, 300 years ago, or 3,000 years ago. He is equally as good in Paris on a cold November night. He is equally as good in California on a sunny December day. He is as good on D-Day as He is on a Tuesday. His goodness, though a mystery, remains immovable. He is, by very definition, the epitome of goodness and perfection. His goodness cannot diminish over time. Time is no enemy to the depths of God’s goodness. It is not an armor that rusts with the wear and tear of eternity. God has been, and continues to be, infinitely good.
And for God to be God He must mourn at the funeral with us.
The best difference between God and us is His heart cannot grow those deep strong roots of bitterness. Because bitterness can’t grow where there’s love. And from what I know about God, God is love. So He stands at the funeral and mourns with us. He mourns because, like us, He knows this was never the way things were intended to be. Rather than resorting to cynicism, something deeper grows inside of Him, something deeper than our bitterness.
The thing that grows strong is hope. Hope in redemption. Hope in renewal. Hope in restoration.
And for us to be us we cannot be any more evil than we were since the dawn of time. Depravity has existed for as long as man has. We cannot get any more sinister. We cannot become any crueler. Darkness is darkness when compared to the light. It’s so easy to see how sick and twisted we are. And yes, in no way do I want to trivialize our present darkness, but I do want us to grab on to what may be a little bit of hope.
It’s easy to become discouraged by how far we’ve fallen. But fallen is fallen. His arms are not too short to save.
Because even still, the world is good.
You are good. The person at the desk next to you is good. The neighbor across the street is good. The homeless man you pass on your way to work is good. The desperate mother on the other side of the earth is good.
There’s redemption and light and goodness waiting with baited breath right under the surface of all this debris. Can you feel it? There’s anticipation in the air. There’s an arrival, a renewal, and the goodness of it all beckons us to discover it. There's Advent. There's the longing for something bigger and braver and better. Are we willing for a minute, for a month, to sit in the depths of our mourning so we can realize the depths of goodness just around the corner?
This is a call to arms, but only if those arms are ready to embrace.
Ready to embrace each other, ready to anticipate the redemption, ready to realize that still, yes even still, the world is good. God is good. You are good. It is a good, good world.
Will we lay down arms to pick up each other? Will we lay down bitterness and grief to pick up hope and renewal?