The links to headlines depict the deeply sad (and very disturbing) reality that moved me. If you choose to view them, I hope they move you as well.
The headline caught my attention: Chemical Attack Massacre on 100s of Civilians in Syria. My heart grieved at the brutal imagery of this tragedy. Innocent children aren’t supposed to be murdered!
Between the time I started writing this blog and when I finished it, two Egyptian churches were bombed on Palm Sunday, killing 44 people. It’s not supposed to be this way! How do we face such brokenness in the world - knowing as well the deep brokenness in ourselves - and still love the world?
How Jesus Responded
By God’s kindness, I was reading in John 11 the morning I saw that first headline. This account tells us that Jesus’ friend Lazarus has died. Jesus welled up with anger and was moved to tears. His emotions reveal the truth - it’s not supposed to be this way. Our God weeps fully, even while He knows that he will raise Lazarus from the dead.
I need that truth. We need that. Friends aren’t supposed to die. Children aren’t supposed to be murdered by chemical weapons. Churches aren’t supposed to blow up. Jesus is neither cynical nor numb. He entered into the pain with sadness and anger yet with compassion and love - “your brother will rise again” (John 11:23).
The Risk of Our Response
There is "mess" all around us - in our neighborhoods, schools, workplaces, and city. As those reconciled to God by grace through Jesus’ death and resurrection, we too can enter into the brokenness of the world with compassion and love. We can serve with a Ministry Partner, disciple someone with overwhelming struggles, talk about "real life" with a neighbor.
But we don’t have to. Nobody is forcing us to step into the brokenness in love.
C.S. Lewis speaks to the risk and consequence of our choice to love or not:
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” - The Four Loves
But Jesus was vulnerable in love to the point of tears, as we see in John 11. And He was vulnerable to the point of death, "even death on a cross" (Philippians 2:8).
The Story Worth the Risk
Jesus gives me hope. I’m writing this for myself just as much as I am for anyone else. It is so easy to become apathetic or cynical. I need His example of tears, but the story doesn’t stop there. In his wonderful book Visions of Vocation, Steve Garber states,
“But the story of sorrow is not the whole story of life either. There is also wonder and glory, joy and meaning, in the vocations that are ours. There is good work to be done by every son of Adam and every daughter of Eve all over the face of the earth. There are flowers to be grown, songs to be sung, bread to be baked, justice to be done, mercy to be shown, beauty to be created, good stories to be told, houses to be built, technologies to be developed, fields to farm, and children to educate.”
So how do we face such brokenness in the world - knowing as well the deep brokenness in ourselves - and still love the world? We trust the God of the Universe who stepped into our mess in love, wept tears, and conquered death.
Lord, please help us to feel as you feel, love as you love, and be a means of your healing in a wounded and wounding world.