We look around at the world and see a lot of things. We see beauty and many wonders, and praise the Creator God. We see mysteries and stand in awe at the Omnipotent God for whom all things are possible. We see the intricacy and order of our lives, our world and our universe and give thanks to the Immutable God.
However, we see other things. We see pain and suffering. We see natural disasters, like the tsunami that devastated Japan and the hurricane that ravaged Haiti. We see pure evil from other human beings, like the death, pain and suffering that my wife and I got a small glimpse of on our visit to Thailand. Or we see that evil all around the world in random acts of violence and destruction. We see that evil in the reports of hate-driven violence and abuse in our own country. We see that evil in the pain we see in our own children because of bullying; psychological and emotional abuse (not to mention physical abuse) that is driving teen after teen to attempt suicide because they have lost hope. They have lost hope that their lives will get better; that this fallen world can offer them anything good in the future; that there are people that care about them and believe in them – not some persona or mask they put on, but in who they truly are, warts and all.
I recently spent some time with a high school student who has given up on Christianity because of these very things. He sees pain and suffering all around the world and he wonders where God is in it all – if the God of the Bible is true, where is the justice that He promises? He has heard what the church has to say, and he just does not see it.
There is a song that means a lot to me called Be Lifted or Hope Rising by the David Crowder* Band. Take a listen;
The song reminds me of Revelation chapter 6, where it says:
I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” (vs 9-10, NIV)
These voices of the martyrs come from under the altar crying out for justice, that they be avenged for their wrongful deaths. They are asking the all-powerful and just God to make things right. Guess what…they are avenged! Justice comes, not only for the wrongs committed against them, but for every wrong committed to everyone!
As we view and experience pain and suffering in our personal lives, we have to remember that God is in control. He is coming back. He will bring justice and renew creation. We cannot let our personal pain and the current struggles obscure the fact that God is a just God, and that we need to “wait a little longer”(v 11). The reality is our world probably is not going to get better before it gets worse, but we can’t give up. Hold on to hope. Lift up your head; God is not done with you.
Just because the world is like this and is getting worse does not mean we are to give up on it. We are called to do our part to bring justice to the world in this life. That does not mean we are all supposed to become judge and jury for all of the wrongs that we see, like a bunch of Christian avenging superheroes.
We are called to love others, to act justly, to do what we are able to do to lessen the burden on others. That may mean working with refugees or the poor, doing international relief work, financially supporting organizations like Kiva or (RED), or to simply go out of your way to build a relationship with someone who needs a friend (people are not projects, they are friends). The truth is most of us should be doing several of these things. That may seem like a lot, like it requires sacrifice, pain and struggles. It does. Following Christ is not easy; if it has been, you are doing it wrong.