My professor had me write a devotional for one of my last graduate classes specifically for this week in light of the events in Boston — I thought it was worth while to share it here.
I often don’t know how to respond and react when tragedy befalls us. And whether we choose to recognize it or not, tragedy has befallen us this week. It is okay to call the horrific events in Boston, evil. However, for those faithful who entrust the well-being of eternity to God, this is not the final word on the matter.
One of my favorite theologians and writers is Frederick Buechner. One of his most commonly cited quotes from Wishful Thinking is this:
“Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen.
Don’t be afraid. I am with you.”
I could be accused as well as any of living in a dream world, and it is truly shattering when horrible things happen with no logical explanation. But we know hope. We have a Savior who experienced death, suffering, pain, and tragedy. Isaiah 53:3 says:
“He was despised and forsaken of men,
a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.”
Our God knows pain and hurt and confusion. But through it all He assures us that we always have hope. More often than not, I forget that we are the Light of the World (Matt. 5:14-16), and we are the hope on earth. Which means in moments of affliction, disaster and calamity; we the Light of the World, are called to action.
Practically, this is a difficult challenge. That is where our creativity and biblical community should rise to the occasion. Whether it be prayer, support, money, giving food, water, or even donating blood, we are called to be there and help meet people’s needs. It could be as simple as holding someone’s hand when they are confused and hurting, or simply listening to their flustered words.
I love this quote, also from Buechner, taken from his commencement address at Union Seminary:
“The world is full of dark shadows, to be sure both the world without and the world within … But praise and trust Him too for the knowledge that what’s lost is nothing to what’s found, and that all the dark there ever was, set next to light, would scarcely fill a cup.”
Those last words, the underlined ones, are our hope. Regardless of the evil, the hurt and the pain in the world, when all the darkness is measured up next to the light, it is of very little consequence. The light is of such great magnitude the darkness pales in comparison.
For those Lord of the Rings fans out there, this is a memorable moment. However for those who think it’s bizarre, I would encourage you at some point to either read or watch the films. The deep beautiful images of the Gospel are very apparent in the words of Tolkien throughout the trilogy; and often paint more vivid images than I could ever conjure up in conversation. Either way, this is the imagery I want to leave you with. I pray it’s encouraging.
In The Two Towers, the second book in the series, the King of Rohan, King Théoden, has lost hope at the evil surrounding them. When it appears all hope is gone, he asks the question, “So, much death… what can men do against such reckless hate?” — Aragorn responds with “Ride out with me. Ride out and meet them”. This moment gets me every time. I must ask myself the question too. What can men do against such reckless hate? We must ride out and meet it. I firmly believe God gives us the strength to stare evil face first and hold fast to what is good, pure, holy and true. That is our hope. We are the hope on earth.
This is the clip of that scene in the film —