Sri Lanka: "Why have you forsaken (us)?"
And the chorus soars above the majestic pipe organ, “Christ the Lord is Risen Today!” Just before the “Alleluia,” explosions transform such joys into pure terror… beautiful images instantly becoming grotesque horrors… singing turning to screaming… babies blown from their parents arms… death… dismemberment… smoke… chaos… the worst nightmare has arrived. How does anyone possibly explain any of this to the victims? What lesson can be learned? How can notions of justice ever be uttered? How can any of this be healed?
Even worse, such suffering isn’t at all unique: It happened yesterday on a playground where a little child missed the step and became a quadriplegic moments later… his Daddy watching helplessly. It happened all across the world in the form of motor vehicle accidents… like the one that took my big brother when I was a child. It happened in the form of diseases, drug overdoses, wars, wild beasts… including savage humans destroying so many lives for a few dollars. Whether we are presently feeling this kind of weight or not, this is how the world is. Sadly, no police or military intervention will be able to right the wrong… no medical advance can cure the human condition... no deployment of counselors will be able to vanquish the internal pain… no explanations will even begin to suffice. All is lost.
Since Creation’s fall, the wilderness has been quite the journey… mankind forever missing the mark… pitifully lost with no hope of being found… or so it seemed. Roughly two thousand years ago, a world overflowing with despair and hopelessness (in ways large and small) experienced a new kind of transformation… yet in almost unknown events… personal experiences with a mere handful of people. And yet, in these sacred moments, Creation itself was healed… man's path was illumined… suffering was erased… darkness shattered… death itself overturned! Here… the world is overcome! Here... Life and Love are victorious... forever.
Yes, I realize this is silly to most. I understand… such faith isn’t easy… nothing worthwhile is ever easy. However, it is strangely simple from a certain perspective… just far from easy. One might say it was MEANT to be this way… even CREATED this way. More nonsense? Okay… I’ll await the “sensible” response to the horrors of this life. Let all free men be clear: the secular world has no enduring answer to anything. For instance, regarding the most basic questions surrounding origins, naturalism presupposes time, space and matter... quite the supposition indeed. Imagine a hippopotamus in your living room and the "scientist" is explaining hippo morphology, as the massive animal destroys your house. You would rightly ask, "Why is this hippo in my house?" "Where did he come from?" "How do we get rid of him?" The "scientist" would have no answers to these questions... only deflections from the essential matters. In such a paradigm, why should such "scientists" be held in such esteem in realms far outside their limited frame of reference?
More directly, how exactly should we respond to those whose lives have been so profoundly devastated… so utterly wounded to the core? Friends, there is a reason why suicide is rapidly increasing in the West… so many lives with no answers… no deeper meaning… no ultimate purpose. And yet, even to the most desperately lost… there is an understanding of what it might feel like to be found… to be heard… to be known… to be welcomed Home. How can this be? There is a world outside of time, space and matter... for outside of all Creation is He who has made it. Here... we discover WHY hippos exist... why we exist... why we are consciously aware of the fact that we exist! Here... we discover WHY we hurt... WHY we hope... WHY we laugh... WHY we yearn for a place we have not seen with human eyes.
There was a woman who had been possessed by demons… including human ones. Her life was a living hell… a series of seemingly pointless disappointments… lies… betrayals… abandonment. But one day she met someone who was different… someone who really saw her… who even believed in her. In his smile, the enduring sorrows of her life were transformed into abiding Hopes… all things becoming new! Here... each day was giving birth to new discoveries… shaky first steps giving way to running... to even soaring! Every old question finding its answer… every past disappointment being swallowed up by greater realizations… even her feeble limbs empowered by his strong hands of Love! Her new friend had saved her… healed her… renewed her… lifted her to the greatest of Joys. And so… how must she have felt when she beheld her friend being viciously slandered, hideously mocked, savagely beaten, and ultimately crucified as a criminal? Her eyes were steadfastly glued upon him as he breathed his last breath. All was lost.
Though she was now dead inside, she rose to serve her friend in the only way she knew… to anoint his dead body with herbs… to lovingly wrap his body with cloth… to be somehow close to the only love she had ever known. And yet, on this morning, even this last desire was denied. She found his tomb open… his body stolen. Her fullness just a few days earlier was now total emptiness… not a shred of strength remained to take even another step. No one ever walked a lonelier road… or been in a darker place than Mary Magdalene. And yet, in a mere moment of time... in simply hearing him speak her name... all was made complete... forever.
Christ chose a witness who was of no value in the courts of those days. He did not choose to appear to Caesar, people of influence, historians, rabbis, priests… or anyone else mortals would choose. He chose Mary. And he chooses any and all with eyes, ears, and hearts like hers… from fishermen to kings... from peasants to billionaires. Beyond mere appearances, it is always the humble who see him as he is… who yearn to walk with him... who eagerly reach for his nail-scarred hands... and then, extend their own.
To those grieving in Sri Lanka today… he is risen! To those who have lost loved ones… he is risen! To any and all who are suffering… he is risen! To all who are lost, confused, and so very weary… he is risen! Of course, we remain free to consider this truth insufficient... even non-existent. Some shake their fists towards the heavens screaming, "What kind of God allows this?!!!" Well... the same kind of God that allows those he made in his own image to murder his only begotten son... the first fruit of his new garden. In hard times it is only natural to not understand the greater purposes... for we are only able to see from our most limited perspective within time and space. There is a world outside of this one... where he is making all things right... in fact, he is building his Kingdom. Behold... in Christ, he is making all things new!
Friends, we don’t make the rules… we don't make the plans... and this is a very good thing. We’re not able to do such things... for we are the Created, not the Creator. Thankfully, there is a Father who is able… a Father who loves perfectly… a Father who acts perfectly... a Father who RUNS to us when only we turn towards Him. Soli Deo Gloria… Christ the Lord is Risen Today!