This past year has seemed especially difficult. Natural disasters, international tensions, shootings, bombings, all on top of our personal hardships that wear us down repetitively. And while it seems like this year has been particularly difficult, which I believe it has been, these hardships have always been a component of the story-line.
Just a couple weeks ago we remembered the terrible event 12 years ago, that shook our nation and demonstrated just how evil man can be and just how much pain a people can endure. And this isn’t by any means the lone instance of this. Just think back to history class when we learned of all of the suffering that has occurred in the history of mankind, let alone just in the past century.
Oppressive leaders, sex-trafficking, child abuse, poverty, racism, hunger, disease and illness, war, genocide, slavery, domestic violence…. Our news is saturated with hard times, sad stories of pain, and the cruel actions of so many people. But is this new? Has there ever been a peaceful time? A time without pain, or hardship, or suffering? A time where everyone treated everyone else with complete respect and received the same?
It seems like a lofty thing for us to ask of humanity (this whole peace and love thing), and yet isn’t that what we hope for? Why do we feel as if the world should be different if this is all we’ve experienced? Hardships, pain, and turmoil is “normal”, the only thing we’ve known, and yet we long for something different. It’s like desiring apple pie when you haven’t tasted apples or pie before.
So have you personally ever noticed this gap? Have you longed for a better world despite the repetitive failure of our circumstances to even come close to meeting that expectation. If many people desire an ideal world, which I believe many of us do, it says a lot about who we are. Exhausted, we may start to give up hope, but even if we start to accept the status quo, the reality is we still preferred something else. We crave something this world isn’t offering.
So is this “better world” attainable? Is there a legitimate hope that exists for something different than the status quo? And if so, what do we rest our hope in?
Those are the big questions.
I’m going to offer my worldview and I would encourage you to keep reading, and join the conversation.
It was when I saw how messed up this world is, the pain we all endure, my own shortcomings in being a “good” person, and the trouble and hardships I’ve caused others, that I first realized the gap between what I longed for in the world and reality.
I believe that this gap can only be crossed with the help of Jesus Christ, who came and lived a perfect life, and sacrificed himself through death on a cross. God loved us enough to come down as a man, weak, tempted, beaten, mocked, and killed. He suffered like us. He shared in the hardships just so we could know him and know that He loved us and was willing to die for us. He died as an atonement for the mess that exists in our lives that has caused the turmoil and miseries of this world.
Even since Jesus’ death and resurrection, his commandments to love one another and make disciples, has pushed the church into the next chapter of His story-line: to work on restoring this world to how it’s supposed to be. A perfect community with God and one another, and without pain, hardship, suffering, or death. And he promised he would come again to restore this world completely, ridding it of all of its shortcomings.
A peaceful world is what we long for. On our own, we haven’t been able to fix it, but God has entered our story, shared in our suffering, and has offered hope for a better world and a better life for those who follow. He has been, is, and will continue to be working to fix this world. It’s a story that fits what can be observed about this world. It’s a story that offers hope in the midst of sadness and despair. It’s a story that if true, changes everything.
These struggles we go through are real. The pain is real. But there’s hope given that says it’s only temporary and that it will be dwarfed by the happiness and fulfillment of what’s to come. I long for the day, when I experience something different. Much, much, much different.