Still Wondering — What Happened To Love?

Originally posted in December of 2014, I am incredibly saddened by how relevant all of these thoughts and feelings are to this upcoming season as well.  We can’t quite seem to grasp the concept that Jesus, the reason for the season, is LOVE:

Our world is hurting.  This season of hope is filled with pain, anguish and suffering for far too many.  Hurt is running rampant.  Many live in fear.  Fear of men.  Fear of their neighbors.

Christians are being exterminated in some parts of the world by extremists who are killing men, women, and children — young and old alike.  All because they cling firmly to their faith and refuse to renounce their God.

Looters are doing damage to property and stealing because they feel that justice hasn’t been served.  In response they are protesting by destroying the homes and businesses of people who had no control over the verdicts.

Mothers are crying for their babies that will never again hug them in this life.

Police officers are no longer safe in their own cars.

Our world is in utter chaos.  It isn’t just happening in some distant part of the world.  It is right here in our own streets.

How can we ever heal all of the pain?  The answer is simple.  We can’t.  All we can do is be there for the lost, the hurt, and the wounded.  Love them.  Comfort them if we can.  And pray.  Always pray.

“You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.”  But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.  For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?  Do not even the tax collectors do the same?  And if you greet only your brothers and sister, what more are you doing than others?  Do not even the Gentiles do the same?” (Matthew 5:43-47, NRSV)

But this season we are celebrating by continuing to place our faith and hope for humanity in the small hands of the baby that was born over two thousand years ago.  A baby changes everything, according to a Christmas song recorded by Faith Hill.  As a mother I can say that is definitely true.  However the baby born to Mary and Joseph changed more than just the sleeping habits of Mary and Joseph.  This baby brought love and reconciliation to a cold, dark world.

The wee babe would grow up into a man who didn’t resemble the Messiah the people were expecting.  He was, however, the Savior they needed.  The same Saviour we look to and still need today.  Jesus. A man who reached out to the poor, the marginalized, the sick, women, the outcasts, and the down trodden.  Who corrected the educated in the temple and did not seek out the company of the wealthy.

This rebel Messiah led a revolution of love.  He was the son of an unwed mother and the step son of a poor carpenter.  The most unlikely person to become a  powerful savior who would take on the Roman Empire.  Let us be the unlikely people in our time who live out that same message in a broken, hurting world.

The ancient people of Israel missed the lessons of love and forgiveness Jesus brought.  They were more concerned with being citizens of this world and getting the revenge they thought their enemies and persecutors deserved rather than focusing on becoming citizens of heaven and extending a hand of forgiveness.  They were more concerned with removing their oppressors.  So busy in fact that they missed the love and ever lasting joy being offered to them by the longed for Messiah.

Let us strive to remember the message and live in the way the Great Deliverer taught us.  Even as our Lord Jesus hung from the cross, in the utmost anguish, completely innocent of any crimes, he still asked his father to forgive his enemies.  Defiled, humiliated, beaten, and tortured, Jesus still begged forgiveness for the ones who knew not what they did.  He asked for nothing for himself.  He freely forgave his enemies and put their eternal welfare before his own frail human condition.

Love was the guiding principle Jesus taught.  Forgiveness his sovereign decree.  A baby changed everything.

These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another, render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace, do not devise evil in your hearts against one another, and love no false oath; for all these are things that I hate, says the Lord. (Zechariah 8:16-17 – NRSV)

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Making Sense of Darkness

Today as we add filters of the French flag to our Facebook profile pictures, we read with horror all of the emerging details of the horrific  attacks in Paris yesterday.  We struggle to make sense of it all, and as humans we sometimes begin to question where was God?  How could he let this happen?  The simplest answer to this question is we just don’t know.

This made me recall a poem written by Grandpa Eber that I included in a post  called It Is Good – Eber’s Legacy back in August of 2014.  As we continue to pray for the people of Paris and all of the families affected and in need of healing, take a moment to glean some comfort from the word of this dear departed gentleman in the following excerpt from that post :

It Is Good…..God Called It So

How could God be so remiss

To put us in a world like this?

This world is evil, of little worth,

We’ve heard this said about the earth.

Why put us in this evil place,

Did this show lack of grace?

This we endure, it is our curse,

We think that nothing could be worse.

Are His motives then suspect?

Such thoughts we quickly should reject

If we remember as we should.

He formed the world, then called it good.

Goodness we should contemplate,

It shows His care and love so great;

Sunrise and sunset, sky so bright,

He gives us light, for he is Light.

He gives us such joys to bless our days,

We should respond with love and praise;

Created things we now applaud

And worship the Creator God.

When time shall end, He’ll show us more,

Still greater things He holds in store;

Then we will finally understand

This is what he always planned.

How did Eber know the world would look so hopeless just three short years after his death?  Christians are being exterminated in Iraq and other places, children are being gunned down in schools, women are being forced into sex trafficking, millions are being displaced or fleeing the violence in their homelands, and the threats of terror and violence are making people afraid to go about their daily lives.  It is probably human nature to question the why of it all and want God to explain and answer why he would allow such atrocities to happen.  We must put the blame for it all on SOMEONE.

It occurs to me that my generation is probably not the first generation to say the world has become a cold and hopeless place, how will humanity survive,  what possible future can my child have in a world like this?  We are seeing a lot of evil right now all around, but the generation before us dealt with the Cold War, Vietnam and segregation, and the one before that with World War II, and the one before that with the Great Depression, and the one before that with World War I, and the one before that with the Spanish-American War, and the one before that with the Reformation period and the one before that the Civil War — I could keep listing, going on and on, backward over the decades to list the tragedies and travesties that have been plaguing humanity since time began, not just here in the United States but across the globe.

These words of Eber’s followed by my thoughts from over a year ago strike me as being relevant today.  May we continue to try to be people of peace and light in a world that is struggling and dark.  As long as we have faith, hope, and love we can each in our own ways make this world a better place.  Our God sits on the throne, and he will conquer all evil.  The battles are being waged, but the war is already won.

Dear brothers and sisters in Paris, may the God of Light fill you with comfort and wrap each of you in his loving arms.  In the days and weeks to come may you begin to feel his healing balm in your lives.  As the apostle Paul said in Ephesians, Stand firm!  We must stand firm in our faith and stand firm in the promises of God.  Horrible things happen at the hands of other men, but God is the great Physician. Turn to him, let his healing begin to wash over the streets of Paris tonight.

Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and you healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. – Isaiah 58:8 (NSRV)