“Evening news is where they begin with ‘Good evening,’ and then they proceed to tell you why it isn’t.”
A few years ago, I heard this witty one-liner on SNL, and it’s stuck with me ever since. Though intended to be darkly comedic, this statement sadly rings true in light of the endless stream of tragedies classified as today’s Breaking News.
“Homeless Man Arrested in Death of American Student in Rome”
“Disney Gator Attack: 2-Year-Old Boy Found Dead”
“Invisible Zika Virus Epidemic Frustrates Health Officials”
“Girl Dies From Brain Eating Amoeba After Church Trip to North Carolina”
These are just a few of the more recent blaring headlines. As they sound, they offer a pretty accurate snapshot of the state the world is in today – one characterized by sin and suffering. The media is saturated with stories conveying grief and immense mourning. I often try to distance myself from the horror of it all by tuning out the helplessness I feel in a world increasingly wrought with pain.
As relational beings created in the image of God, we are endowed with the ability to reason and feel deeply. That’s why the news is often so troubling. So much of the suffering that is covered seems senseless. I can’t help but wonder, Why did that have to happen, God? And how can anything good come from that?
My grandfather, who recently passed away, wrestled with questions of this nature, to the point where he couldn’t believe all the tragedy could coexist with a good and sovereign God. He grew up in a Jewish home and enjoyed a carefree childhood. At age 10, he witnessed his older brother get run over by a car and die shortly after in the hospital. I found one of his journals in which he wrote that his childhood ended that day – he felt isolated and abandoned as he walked out of the hospital with only his mother and father. He wrote, “In that moment, all religion lost its meaning, when death took its toll, sparing no one.” This death had such a profound impact on my grandfather that he spent most of his life as a proclaimed atheist, until the final day before his own death at age 87.
Though we may never fully comprehend why suffering and tragedy occur, we know that God is good and just and He will ultimately right all wrongs. Because we are made in the likeness of God and our hearts hurt when we hear of death and suffering, how much more we can assume these wounds against humanity hurt the heart of our Creator.
This past weekend I was listening to Focus on the Family’s Audio Theater Production of The Magician’s Nephew. One part in particular captured my attention, where Digory meets Aslan and presents him with his heart’s desire after witnessing the creation of Narnia:
“But please, please – won’t you – can’t you give me something that will cure Mother?” Up till then he had been looking at the Lion’s great feet and the huge claws on them; now, in his despair, he looked up at its face. What he saw surprised him as much as anything in his whole life. For the tawny face was bent down near his own and (wonder of wonders) great shining tears stood in the Lion’s eyes. They were such big, bright tears compared with Digory’s own that for a moment he felt as if the Lion must really be sorrier about his Mother than he was himself. “My son, my son,” said Aslan. “I know. Grief is great.”
This passage illuminates what the Bible tells us about our Heavenly Father. He knows what we are going through, and He understands how we feel. John 11 illustrates that Jesus was so deeply moved and troubled that He couldn’t help but weep when He saw the grief of Lazarus’ sisters over their brother’s death. Because of His unfathomable love for us, God mourns when we mourn, and He is there to comfort us. He looks on our misery, has compassion for us and offers life for those who believe in Him. One day there will be no more suffering and no more fear. God will wipe away every tear. On that day, we will gaze into the eyes of our Heavenly Father, so full of compassion and endless mercy, comprehending how fully known and fiercely loved we have always been.
“If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed. But if you look at Christ, you’ll be at rest.” (Corrie Ten Boom)