Sunday, July 17, 2016

Sadly Grateful

July 17, 2016

It's not that I wasn't thankful; it's just that after waking at five am, standing on concrete for five hours in the afternoon volunteering at the door prize booth, and more than an hour's bike ride home, I was pretty much ready for bed. This morning I was up early so as to be at church in plenty of time for worship team rehearsal, and didn't hear the news till after noon, when I learned of the attack on police officers in Baton Rouge. While the officers' families are in shock and mourning, while others are desperately praying for a miracle, we worshipped, praised God as three young adults and one senior citizen were baptized in our creek, then gathered at the beach for our annual July family birthday celebration.

I don't have the words nor the wisdom to adequately comment on the tragedies that have unfolded before us over the past couple weeks. St. Paul tells us that God is holding the powers of evil at bay, but at the end time, he will remove his restraining hand. I've read enough about the barbarities inflicted upon people throughout history, and of the devastation of natural disasters such as the Black Death in the 1300's that killed nearly a third of the world's population, but the twentieth century is unsurpassed for human brutality, with no indication that things will improve in the twenty-first.

I've been reading through the prophets of the Old Testament, most of whom worked in some of the darkest years of Israel's history. They either predicted the devastation to come, or spoke to the devastation that had already engulfed the nation. Jeremiah was one of the latter. In the midst of terrible suffering, he spoke these words:

Remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall.
My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me.
This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.
It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.
They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.
The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.
--from Lamentations 3

Were I not a believer in Jesus Christ, in his goodness, and in the unseen hand of the Father, I would either despair or erupt in rage at the evil being unleashed upon our world. Instead, I lift my prayers to the God who alone can save, giving thanks for his mercies, and doing my best to live by grace and truth.

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