Is your heart leaking yet, your eyes heavy, your feet dragging as you go about your life this week, this month? While nations rage and Christians and other minorities are dragged from their homes and murdered; while bombs fall and children die, and planes blow up and crash, amid racial unrest and distress, with disease running wild, while one nation consumes another and another . ..
(And then, one of my favorite actors, Robin Williams, dies.) And we can hardly bear to turn on the radio or the TV---or we can hardly bear to turn them off because the men and women there will pull every trick they're taught to keep us glued to death and hate, to fire and flood, to invasion and infection, to fear and more fear.
The world is unraveling, it feels. I am not afraid, but I am sad. And I hope you are as well. I hope you are sad instead of blithe and unknowing. I hope you are sad instead of victorious. I hope you are not one of those Christians whose comments I read this week on the persecutions in Baghdad and the Middle East. We know not to listen to most of the chatter and inanity in the comment boxes, but I did this time, and I have to say this: Please do not be one of those who read of killings, bombings, and persecutions far away and then run to their End Time and Rapture List with a glad hand to check it off saying, "Yes! The End Times! I knew it was here! I'm right!" And perhaps they harbor concern for their brothers and sisters, but there's a small undeniable fist pump and a heel lift that "Yes, all the sooner we're going home! Come, the rapture! Come, my airlift from this messed-up world! Come my personal deliverance out of suffering! Come my own sweet chariot!"
I want a chariot too, but I'm not sure I'm going to get one out of this place. I'm not sure we get airlifted from this world into bliss before it gets worse. Our faith is not in our escape from this world. Our faith is in Jesus, who remained in this world until the very end---and even after, He returned to this world. Death could not keep him from coming back. This world matters that much.
Here's what I really want to say. It's okay to be sad. I'm not going to try and jolly you out of that. God knows the end from the beginning and all that must occur, but I know God is not doing cartwheels as His people are carted off to prisons, cellars and graves. God IS sovereign and He laughs at the nations that shake their fist at Him, but he mourns and suffers when His people suffer. And we should too.
Let your heart be troubled. Yes, Let your heart be troubled----first. Don't entreat us to be joyous right now. Don't choose the balm of a know-it-all theology that can harden your heart toward the suffering of others. (And maybe don't bank too hard on the Rapture, our own escape hatch from hurt. What if it doesn't come?) Let our faith be in Christ alone, no matter what.
Here’s what we can do. Even in the midst of our sadness, when all seems lost, remember these words from Paul:
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? . . .
No! In ALL these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
For I am sure that neither death nor life,
nor angels nor rulers,
nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth,
nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us
from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Nothing. No thing. No person. No enemy. Not even death. NOTHING can separate them (or us) from the love of Christ.
From your broken heart, would you pray that all God’s people in distress would KNOW the love of Christ for them? Would you pray that God’s people, us, would extend whatever help we can to SHOW the love of Christ for them?
And when, like me, you are without words, and you can only ache---even that will not be wasted. God will take your “groanings too deep for words” and use them “to intercede for the saints according to the will of God.”
LET your heart be troubled.
Let your heart groan and pray.
Let your heart intercede for the saints.
And God will hear.
He will answer.
He will hold fast to His promise to all of us:
“Neither death nor life . . NOTHING can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”