Monday, December 22, 2014

Hope for a Wonderful, Broken, Wonderful World

Does the world ever seem more wonderful than at Christmas? Then again, if we look closely, does the world ever seem more broken than at Christmas?
The shiny ornaments of Christmas are so lovely, but they reflect hurt, loneliness, and loss just as much as merry faces and warm hearts. And as we yearn for peace and joy, goodness and light, the world's brokenness—the hatred and cruelty—can seem especially overwhelming.

Where is the hope in one more atrocity, one more inhumane act, one more child's abuse, one more person's pain, one more war, one more displaced people, one more hungry family?

In the novel The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, May Boatwright is a woman who suffers so with others in their pain that she is constantly overwhelmed. When she can no longer function in the face of trouble and hurt, when she has taken upon herself all the pain she can handle, she withdraws to a special place she has created. There, alone, she wails. If you have read the book or seen the film, you know how completely that pain eventually overcomes her life.  

When I feel emotionally overwhelmed by the darkness in the world, I often think of Kidd's portrait of human sensitivity and frailty in May. Often, like May, I "wail" in the face of those situations I cannot personally change, the hurt that breaks my heart, the pain that is unspeakable. I feel an absence of hope.

In His Son, God painted a different portrait. Jesus, both God and man, bore every human sensitivity. Yet, faithful to His Father's plan, He purposefully, and with immense suffering, willingly took on unspeakable pain.

And before He did, He said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NIV).

Ah, there it is. Though pain and suffering must never be trivialized, though whatever we do to help alleviate another's suffering might seem like so little, we must grasp this truth:

Hope is not merely a word imprinted on Christmas cards to make us feel good. Hope is not merely a word we speak to those in pain, assuming they will feel so much better. Hope is Who God sent to this wonderful, broken, wonderful world. Hope is what we are expected to share as we are His hands and feet.

Hope expects us to take those times we feel overwhelmed, those times we want to wail, and instead to take heart.  

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