Pilgrim Road Blog Photo

Pilgrim Road Blog Photo

Friday, January 14, 2011

Despair, Complacency and Hope: The Power to Choose

Dear friends,

"Let not your hearts be troubled; trust in God, trust also in Me."  ~John 14:1

Winter definitely brings out the more melancholy side of my nature.  The sadness of "this present darkness" is harder to shake.  There is plenty of hope, always, amidst the backdrop of of an ill world.  This week, though, I seem to be finding many folks struck once again by the sudden way sin brings ruin and disaster.  And if we don't keep our wits about us we might fall into one of two evils: despair or complacency.

A nine year old child, along with several other living, breathing human beings were struck down this week by what the bible simply calls "wickedness".  Other people were hurt, terribly hurt, and must now climb up a mountain of recovery they never expected, with all the physical and psychological wounds that come from the perpetration of evil. Another mother and father will suffer anguish over their son, who was sucked down into a dark abyss they never saw when they taught him how to ride his bike for the first time.  The shadows of the shooting in Tucson run dark and long.  How shall we respond?

I've listened to people talk about this on the radio, in my office, at school, in the grocery store, on TV.  The ancient groans of a fallen world are written all over this thing.  Many emotions are ricocheting about: anger, disgust, sorrow, and a mixture of feelings that are difficult to find a name for.  Has God seen all this?  Was He somehow asleep at the switch when this horrific event occurred?  You know what I'm going to say - but I'll say it anyway.  The book of Job says "A man is born to trouble as surely as the sparks fly upward."  How true it is.  God is indeed sovereign.  And if you understand where His sovereignty and our free will blend, you have a far better mind than anyone born thus far.  The world was not meant to go this way, folks.  Written all over the word of God is His stubborn desire for peace and joy for His creation.  But the price of love is freedom to choose.  Which of you would ask the Great One to take that away in order to have a perfectly safe life, free from the risk of evil and destruction?  Which of you would choose to be a puppet on God's string in order to protect yourself and those you love from the possibility of a wreckage like the Arizona shooting?  The power to choose is a great gift. It allows the potential for both lofty acts of charity and despicable acts of cruelty.  God sees the whole picture from beginning to end and can still make the thing turn out for His purposes in the end.  He's got the power.  But one thing He won't do is turn us into automatons.  We were made for Love.  It's not possible without choice. 

So rather than despair, we bring our heartache to a Father who can rightly say "I'll make it all right in the end - trust Me".  And when you know His character displayed through ages and ages of those who have walked with Him, you can believe it.  In the midst of the shipwreck He sends islands of refuge.  Courageous souls who lay their bodies down to prevent more death.  Kind, caring people everywhere who pray and encourage and help.  Just and righteous men and women who will pursue the good in the face of countless obstacles.  He won't control us. But He will help us. 

On the other side of the coin is the tendency to walk away and shrug, thinking it's all too big and "what can I do about it anyway".  That's another foul road, one wrought with its own terrible peril.  By engaging in a dark world, first by dealing repentantly with our God and our own shadows, we poke holes in the suffocating blanket of sin.  Listen, I don't know what your ugly thing is in the closet, but I do know my own, and I'll never, ever just accept it.  I must bring my junk out into the light of God's presence so it can be hit head on. Lest I get to the terrifying place where I don't care anymore.  Lest I lay down on the side of the pilgrim road and watch simpering as the world goes from bad to worse.  No way, friends!  We are not going that way!  We have the power to choose...

Bring all your feelings about this to the Great Comforter.  He is here in the thick of it with us.  He bides His time (and we should be glad He does), waiting for as many as will come to receive His grace and mercy.  One day the curtain will close on man's power to sow destruction.  The day of His choosing will begin.

Mercy, mercy for those devastated people in Arizona.  And keep us, Lord, from both despair and complacency.

Look up, friends.  Trust in God.

Your friend on the pilgrim road,


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