Trouble can slam into your life so suddenly. Think of those celebrating a stunning spring day on the day of the Boston Marathon. They’re either glad they’re pushing their body to the limits, or glad they’re not the one whose been running for the past 26 miles. One way or another, most folks are just sharing the afternoon with friends and family.
The marathon of life doesn’t get much better than this. The day could be pretty close to your personal best. Then, BOOM. Tragedy. Terror. Suddenly it seems like the whole of life has become one long heartbreak hill. What happened on Patriot’s Day is not only tragic, it’s personal. It’s Boston. It’s our family. Our friends. It’s us.
We’ve all asked it, one way or another. “Why? Why does God let this happen? I am pretty skeptical of anybody who comes up with a simple answer to the problem of human suffering, the problem of evil. I sure don’t have an answer. But I think the bible does give us some pointers, some ideas, some suggestions, some insights into this part of life.
First, it’s clear that God is not behind evil -- it’s the Devil who is to blame. Don’t forget that!
We also know today that some kinds of suffering are tied to a person’s sins. If you smoke a small fortune’s worth of cigarettes every day from back when you were a teenager don’t be surprised when you get lung cancer. Don’t even think of blaming your problem on God, for it is your fault. If you drink whiskey like it’s water, it’s not God’s fault if you end up a drunk. You reap what you sow.
It gets a little more complicated, though, for sometimes we reap what we have not sown. Why did Martin Richard lose his life when at 8 years old he hadn’t lived long enough to sow much of anything beside love and joy? And Krystle Campbell, Lu Lingzi, Sean Collier? What about all the injured who will be scared for life, physically and emotionally?
We haven’t always had problems like this, you know. When Adam and Eve walked in the garden, at the very beginning, problems like these simply did not exist. There was no sickness, hate, death, jealousy, selfishness, terror or other evils. The garden of Eden was a beautiful place, a perfect place. Then sin entered our world and tore it apart. The jarring presence of sin infected creation, and all kinds of evil began to thrive.
But the Creator God became the Redeemer God and embedded himself in our broken world. Jesus by his atoning death on the cross opened the way for people who trust him to be saved, to find wholeness, life. God has provided a way for us to live, to thrive in relationship with him, and to be significant as repairers of a broken world. It all happens as we live out the good news of Jesus Christ.
Our Christian response is to trust God and know that God’s will shall ultimately be done.When you really believe and live this way, the “why”question loses it power, and becomes less and less a focus of our attention. We realize that we won’t ever be able to fully answer it this side of heaven. The more pressing questions become asking what good can come from our response to the heartbreak hills of life. How can we give God glory? How can we help others in Jesus’ name?
Dear family and friends of First Baptist Arlington,
As I look out my office window this morning, there are still mounds of snow in the church yard. I pause long enough to plug in a small space heater to make my office a little warmer. I can,t even take comfort by thinking of Louisiana. My family there was busy covering up the azalea bushes to protect the almost bursting buds from the “cold snap” headed their way. Where are the beautiful yellow forsythia bushes that tell us that spring is near? Even the small purple crocuses that peek their heads out to see if it is spring have a covering of snow in my front yard. It is almost Easter, and where is spring? It doesn’t look like Easter. It doesn’t feel like Easter. How can Easter come when the world is not ready for it?
When I think back to that first Easter morning, I don’t think the world was ready either. All was gray and dismal as Jesus lay in a borrowed tomb. The disciples were terrified and in hiding because of all that had Happened in Jerusalem that Passover so long ago. They were pained as they remembered Jesus’ sorrow in Gethsemane. They were guilt-ridden over betraying their master. Then there was the phony trial. They had watched from a distance as the very Son of God suffered and died upon the cross. Where was the joy for them? They had none. But when the world least expected it, Easter came! Everything changed at that pivotal moment in history. Jesus was alive! He came forth from the tomb having conquered death and providing the way of salvation for all who believe in him.
Easter is coming again - ready or not! Hallelujah! He is risen!
Join us Thursday evening at 7pm in the sanctuary as we come together in a quiet, reflective moment of focus on Jesus’ final presence with his disciples before facing the cross. Maundy Thursday provides a quiet, reflective opportunity for us to sense the crucial importance of Jesus’ sacrifice and love.
The Lord shared a last supper with with his disciples, and he will do the same with us as we come together in the communion service. Everyone who is a Christian is invited to share the bread and the cup. We do not believe people who love and follow the Lord should be denied Jesus’ invitation because they hold a different church membership or any other reason. Communion is a time for forgiveness and healing. Candles, music, scripture, and stories told will help us begin to appreciate the scope of God’s gift of salvation. At the end,we leave the time of worship in silence.
If you are exploring the possibility of faith for yourself, come and see what the heart of Christianity is all about. If you are already a Christian, come have your faith renewed. Everyone is invited and wanted at First Baptist Arlington.