Beyond Despair: Reclaiming JOY (Hint: Kill your Local god)

I am having trouble speaking today. And writing. I live on an island far away from drug gangs, abortion clinics and the violence that is terrorizing El Salvador right now, but it presses and silences my tongue today. It feels so close . . . To you as well, I am sure. Evil does this, travels across time and space to smother us. 

How do we live and praise today when we can hardly breathe? I promise you breath and beauty in a moment. We'll get there in just a moment. First, come with me here:

I do not want to know about all evils in the world. A few at a time is all I can bear. But even in the horror of it, I am relieved that Planned Parenthood has finally been exposed in these videos. Killing babies has done anything but "empower" these women in crisis. It has only "empowered" the PP leaders and clinics who have profited by trafficking in baby body parts. 

People who do not (yet) believe, and even those who do often challenge Christians asking, "How can a good God allow so much evil and suffering in the world?"  But many times we're asking the wrong question. We should be asking, "How can good people allow so much suffering and evil in the world?"  

We have allowed it. One step at a time. This is our own human-made evil---the jokes about getting rich enough to buy a Lamborgini off babies' bodies while munching on salad and sipping  wine. The "technicians" casually separating human organs in a  pie dish to sell to the highest bidder here in this third video. . . .  We don't have to allow it. (Consider signing some of the online petitions such as this one.

Just one more: El Salvador. The country is spinning out of control as the drug gangs declare war on the government. Twenty-two people have been killed every day of this last month. My daughter, who lived there for 2 years, is in constant contact with friends there. Everyone is terrified to even leave their home.  

I ache for them, for all the good and lovely hard-working people there who cannot even imagine any kind of future. Who cannot even imagine having a job with a real living wage. Who cannot imagine lying down at night in peace and safety. 

So---how do we rejoice in the Lord today? How do we sing and praise and walk through our days in the joy of the Lord?

We can. And should. Every single day we awake and drink our morning coffee before rising to enter the swirl of work and people, there is enough evil in the world to overwhelm us with sorrow and despair and send us back to bed. And So has it always been. 

But when I let the dailiness of evil overwhelm me, I am blinded to even greater truths---the stupendous glories and mercies of God everywhere around me. My eyes can be so downcast at what is happening there I miss all that God is and all He is doing here right in front of me. Does God not care about your here as much as he does about their there? 

Does God not desire and deserve to be loved and enjoyed in ALL the ten thousand places Christ is at work and at play?

Here, would you walk with me for a moment through this week on this Alaskan island?

Dear friends, if God is so present to us in our days and backyards, in friends, flowers, starfish; through storms, work, and daily fish, can we believe that He is even more present to those in faraway yards, who are afraid and suffering? Do we not believe that God will be true to His word and lead ALL his people through the valley of the shadow of death, that He will deliver them to quiet waters and green pastures, as He has done for us so many times? 

Is our God so small that because WE are not there in those valleys, we do not quite believe that HE is there?

Can we get rid of our tiny, local god to embrace the Real God, the Omnipotent, Omnipresent God over All That Is??

Let us believe God's promises for others as much as we believe them for ourselves. And let us pray these promises for them! God wants this, that we share their burdens through prayer, believing that God WILL be to them just who He said He will be. Just who He has been to us. 

Believe this. And then pray. Join me in praying for El Salvador, the only country who bears His name (It's original full name was "Provincia De Nuestro Señor Jesus Cristo, El Salvador Del Mundo" ["Province of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World"], abbreviated to "El Salvador" [The Savior].

And---please join me in helping to take away Planned Parenthood's federal funding. 

THEN, full of prayer, praise and joy, go out into your day, your yard and your work with eyes open for all the ways God is already redeeming Creation, redeeming His people, for all the ways God is ruling as King here and there even now. 

Even now. 

Believe it.