Monday, June 18, 2007

Setting the World Right

Lately I have been surrounded by tragedy. It seems that each time I pick up the phone, I learn that a friend’s health is failing, that a child has died, or that someone is enduring terrible emotional pain. At times, I feel like my heart will be crushed by the sadness and the burdens that these dear friends are facing. The most difficult part is feeling powerless to “fix” things for them. More importantly, I hate the feeling that the world has gone crazy and I cannot set the world right.

I think that many Christians can empathize with the burden that I feel. There is something within me that desperately wants to set the world right and rid the world of the terrible sadness and pain that fills it. While I know that I cannot solve the world’s problems, I do believe that there are some steps that we can take to ease the suffering of those around us:

1. We must realize that we will never fully comprehend why we suffer. 1 Corinthians 13:10-12 says: “when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”

2. We are to reach out and serve others. (James 1:27 – visit and take care of orphans and widows; 1 Tim. 5:23 – be generous and ready to share; Isa 40:1 – comfort God’s people). The Bible is filled with verses instructing us to love others, serve others, and comfort others. We can all find ways to serve. Many of us will try to serve and comfort others by going on mission trips this summer. Some people will do things that enable others to serve on a mission trip (giving financial support, praying for those on mission trips, or by keeping kids, like my in-laws, so that we can attend a mission trip). Others will comfort and love others by serving at the homeless shelter, by sending a card or flowers to a friend, or by visiting someone that is sick and/or shut in.

3. We cannot lose hope. Rom 8:18 says, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

4. We can strive to live our lives with enthusiasm and passion. Yesterday, I decided to play on the new slip and slide with Jacob & Maria. When I went down the slip and slide the first time, I was cautious and slow. Jacob wanted to race, and Mike told me that I needed to get a running start because my sliding was “pitiful.” The next time, I took off running and lunged onto the slide on my stomach. I was so enthusiastic that I could not stop, slid off of the slide and across the grass, and stopped when I plowed into Maria and knocked her down. Although this scared Maria, it was clear that Jacob & Maria were thrilled that I was playing with them with passion! They loved receiving my undivided attention and witnessing my enthusiasm. Even though I was surrounded by sadness, I decided to take the time to play yesterday. Yesterday’s time playing in the back yard showed me that I am blessed with life, and I need to live each moment with enthusiasm. As John Piper writes, "God's commitment to be glorified and my deepest longing to be satisfied are not in conflict, but in fact find simultaneous consummation in his display of and my delight in the glory of God."

I hope that each of you will find a way to comfort someone this week, and that you will make an effort to live each moment of this week to the fullest, delighting in the glory of God.

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