An End to Brokenness
What kind of reality would it be if a lion would lie down with a lamb and see it as a fellow living creature, and not as lunch?
It would be God's kind of reality. It would be His Kingdom of Shalom (peace). This is the very picture given through the prophet Isaiah:
"The wolf will live with the lamb,
the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling together;
and a little child will lead them.
The cow will feed with the bear,
their young will lie down together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox.
The infant will play near the cobra’s den,
and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.
They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain,
for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea." (Isaiah 11:6-9 NIV)
Okay, raise your hand if you know this is not yet the world we live in. Our world is marked by violence and greed and war and illness and danger. Our world is not what it was created to be, and we are not who we were created to be, either. Sin is a universal human condition, and it has effects in our lives and in our world.
All this can leave us with the haunting question, "Why?" Why do all these bad things happen in our world? Isn't God all-powerful? Isn't He good? Doesn't He care? Why me, Lord?
The Biblical, theological answer to the "Why?" question is actually not very satisfying to our hearts. The world has been cursed because of human sin. We have been gifted with free will, and use it to rebel against the God who made us. Most of the bad things that happen in the world are not a result of God's direct action. They are the result of human sin and human choices.
A drunk chooses to drive, crosses the center line and causes a crash that takes the life of the father of thee children who loves his family. God did not do that. This world is a fallen, broken, sin-cursed place, and it is dangerous. Bad things are going to happen. No one is exempt.
But a follower of Jesus who reads and understands the Scriptures knows that is not the end of the story. God is always working for redemption. Even in the mess. Even in the worst of it. The Cross is proof of that. The most despicable, unfair thing that ever happened to any human being happened to Jesus on a Roman cross outside Jerusalem. He didn't deserve it, and it was brutal. And God used His Son's sacrifice to pay the price of sin and open the door to salvation.
The end of the story is not the Cross. It is the empty tomb. God raised His Son from the dead and made Him King of kings and Lord of lords. The story of God is a story of redemption out of the pain and suffering and ugliness of this broken, fallen world.
In 1972, Kris Kristofferson wrote and recorded a song with the "Why?" question in it. But his song asks the question from a very different perspective.
Why me, Lord?
What have I ever done To deserve even one Of the pleasures I've known? Tell me Lord, what did I ever do That was worth loving you Or the kindness you've shown?
Perhaps instead of asking "Why me, Lord?" about the painful stuff in our lives we should ask "Why me, Lord?" about the blessings. They come from a gracious and good God, who does not give us what we deserve. He gives us far more and far better.
Some day the universe will be fully redeemed. Some day the just, peaceful, trouble-free world we long for will be a reality. But that day is not yet. In the meantime, we can live by faith. In the meantime we can practice compassion and help others. In the meantime we can maintain hope that God's Kingdom of peace is coming.
Shalom, dear friend. Live for Jesus in the meantime.