The world is a very rough place.
Today, somewhere, probably not so far away, a young girl’s innocence is stolen.
Somewhere, probably much nearer, a man betrayed the solemn promise he made.
Somewhere a man doesn’t understand why he hates his body, why he feels trapped inside it, why he wants to be a woman. He thinks God has played a terrible joke on him and he hates his life.
Somewhere a woman is filling her life with a string of sexual partners, attempting to convince herself she is loved.
Somewhere a child is wondering why the soldiers dragged her parents away.
Everyday atrocities are happening beyond description, beyond my imagination.
The world is frustrated, angry, rushed, grieving, longing, lonely, lustful, resentful, depressed, and simply dying inside.
It isn’t surprising so many people question the existence of God.
Not a cheerful topic. I’m in a cheerful mood though. It has been a great week. I have been challenged at work, I am tired, in a very good way. My marriage is good. My kids are fine. I am working harder than ever and am loving my life. But I’m mindful of those who are hurting.
I wish more could know peace.
Their frustrations and disappointments, pain and shame, seem beyond their control. They assume the control of these terrible things are in His hands.
“He holds the whole world in His hands...” But He has leased it out to us, and given us one Hell of a landlord. More accurately, a landlord from Hell.
But remember, the free will we have been given is augmented by the power of prayer, prayer can move the hand of God. An amazing thought. The Lord of all, the Creator, has arranged the universe that He permits us to use His power.
My friend is in a land of tears. He and another are rolling along a potholed road in the mountains of western Africa. The medical supplies they carry will bring welcome relief for many who suffer. But it is a small drop of water in a very thirsty place.
I took two semesters of African history. It is a sad tale of colonialism, imperialism, and greed. It can be tiresome learning what the French did to Africa. What the British did. What the Dutch did. What slavery, poverty, and disease did. What coffee growers and soap makers and dealers in precious metals and gems did to Africa.
My friend is taking glasses of cool water to thirsty people, and seeking ways to bring them more.
It does not replace the arms of children hacked off with the machetes of ethnic hate. And it does not restore home and family to those who have lost both.
But it does demonstrate, to a few, that there is love in the world.
Readers of the Book of Job are usually searching for answers to why people suffer. It’s a tough question. They sometimes think that Job will answer that question. But in the end, God never tells job the why of it all.
I think the book isn’t about such questions. I think it is about how we are to live in the face of tragedy.
The world rolls on, and those in deep grief look on in horror as it does. The sun rises and the world blithely goes about its business, callously ignoring the breaking tender heart.
The owner of a breaking heart might wonder if there is a God. If He is cruel or uncaring.
Suffering is part and parcel with free will.
So is salvation.
That drink of cool water my friend is taking to Africa is really about love. “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”
The pains of Job are relived every day, all over this rolling ball of dirt.
What an awful, hideous, festering realm of sorrow.
My life is good right now. I love my job. I love my family. I really love my wife. I am happy to follow my Lord.
I recognize the world is filled with sorrow. I also recognize there is joy in offering a glass of water.
So tonight my friend is walking under African skies, gazing at stars I have never seen.
It is a joy to bring water to those who thirst. To provide a glimmer, a dim reflection of the blinding love which sorrows with us. The love which gazes in compassion and grief at our choices, the ones which lead us to choose evil.
If you are in pain. If you are aching and weary. Let me know. I am eager to pray for you. It would be my honor to offer you a cup of water.