Being overseas during significant cultural and political events is always difficult. Being overseas during tragedy, whether personal or public is often even more of a challenge. Receiving accurate information, feeling far away from the events and separate, as well as having to grieve differently or alone are just some of those challenges.
These past couple weeks, within our group, we have had many discussions about the current events, the recent shootings and the political climate back home. Being in Europe doesn’t mean we are completely isolated or removed from it because we are often asked about the American political situation. After all, our countries choices do impact the rest of the world too. And having Facebook means we are never far away from the ebb and flow of social dialog.
With this being said, I have spent some of my free time reading articles and postings about the recent shootings, trying to balance the information I’m receiving from the left, right and middle viewpoints popping up on social as well as other media outlets. And I’ve been struggling with how I should feel, how I am feeling and what that looks like in my current situation. My own grief, my own heavy heart and emotions being far away, deep into our training and life here but still desiring to mourn with those who are mourning in the states.So Monday morning I was thankful for the devotion that was given before our daily classroom work. Its somber tone spoke directly to my confusion, grief and desire for things to be different. This isn’t how it should be. Things should be different. But they are not. So what should we do? What should our response be?
I struggle with feeling hopeless and wondering what I can do that would actually make a difference. While searching for the answer, the only true comfort I find is in the cross. Looking at Psalm 10, I find some solace in hearing the laments of those before me. Lamenting is not a negative thing, it isn’t a last resort but instead it is a license for us to grieve well. This Psalm shows people, long before our time, who were asking the same questions, struggling with evil and pushing against those seeking to harm others. And the conclusion, despite these realities, is that God is the champion. He hears the “desire of the afflicted” and listens to us. And He is King forever.But He is not simply the King who reigns separate from us. He is also the King who became flesh and died on the cross. He knew suffering and so He is not outside of the suffering we see and experience in this world. John Stott says: “I could never myself believe in God, if it were not for the cross. The only God I believe in is the One Nietzsche ridiculed as ‘God on the cross.’ …That is the God for me! He laid aside his immunity to pain. He entered our world of flesh and blood, tears and death. He suffered for us. Our sufferings become more manageable in the light of his. There is still a question mark against human suffering, but over it we boldly stamp another mark, the cross that symbolizes divine suffering.” And I am thankful that I don’t believe in, love and serve a distant, removed God. But instead the God of the universe became flesh and died an unjust death on the cross. This serving, sovereign, righteous God is my God.
So the world is not as it should be. I hope that we all recognize this when looking at the recent events and how the world is changing. And whatever side you find yourself on, whatever political cause or social cause riles you up, shakes your foundation or grieves your soul. Or if you struggle with trying to find your own voice and opinion when the world around you seems polarized and confident of their rightness in regards to their opinion about a certain event or issue. No matter where you are, we can unite in saying that the world is not as it should be.
As for me, I will look to the cross, pray for our world, struggle with and through our current culture and political turmoil, engage with these struggles and not apologize for my emotions. It is well with my soul, not because the world is right but because of what Jesus did on the cross. And finally I will look forward to a world and a time where we will be able to experience true peace, renewal and a world as it should be.