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I was milking the cow the other day. The morning sun was warm against my back, a welcome respite from the winter’s chill. I leaned my forehead against the cow’s flank and watched the fresh milk zing into the bucket. Her new calf danced around us. The chickens clucked and scratched. The robins and meadowlarks sang. The air was fresh and sweet.
As I write this, the fate of 153 Chinese miners trapped in a flooded coal shaft is unknown. Hope is fading. Despite the efforts of thousands of rescuers and the draining of millions of gallons of water, no signs of life are being detected. Desperate and angry families are demanding answers about the laxness of Chinese mining regulations, but no amount of explanation will bring back their loved ones.
The radio near my office is constantly tuned to the classical station. Right now the strains of Mozart’s Symphony No. 25 are playing. I close my eyes and revel in the beauty of the clean stanzas, the perfect lyricism of one of the world’s most brilliant composers.
The frantic search for a missing disabled 4-year-old Mexican girl came to a sad conclusion this week when she was found asphyxiated and stuffed under her own mattress. Her mother – the very person who bore this child and should have cherished her more than life itself – is the suspected murderer.
My husband’s superb reading voice comes from the next room, bringing Tolkien’s “The Two Towers” to life for our girls before their bedtime. Every night he does this – reads to them for at least half an hour. I listen and marvel at what a good father he is. He’s worked his way through a great deal of classic literature over the years. The kids are very advanced readers – they can hardly help but be, having been raised in a household with over 5,000 books – but there’s nothing like listening to Dad to make a story come alive.
The horrifying details of how a 15-year-old girl sold her 7-year-old stepsister for sex are coming to light. The child was gang-raped by at least seven men and boys with a violence that left hardened police officers – many of whom have young children of their own – wanting to vomit.
I stand outside and watch the setting sun break through the clouds and light up the hills, blazing orange rays across the mist and dramatically silhouetting our neighbor’s horses. It’s moments like this that make me remember how fortunate we are to live where we do.
The world is such a study in contrasts. We have amazing good and we have loathsome bad. We have magnificent beauty and unimaginable horror. We have natural disasters that topple nations and gentle rains that bring new growth. We have acts of terrorism that bring countries to the brink of war, and brave men and women willing to give their lives to fight against such evil.
During a week when Christians the world over are concentrating on the sacrifice of a Savior who saved us from our sins, the headlines keep shouting at us, reminding us of our earthly limitations and imperfections. Reminding us that bad news never takes a break.
It’s not just the headline news that rocks our world. It’s also the personal everyday tragedies that worry us. I am now watching a dear friend get nearer to a divorce. A family in our town had a baby born with a severe heart defect, and no one knows if he’ll survive. A beloved husband and father in our community traveled to a distant medical clinic for back treatment and died of a massive heart attack.
But in the midst of the heartbreak and sorrows and misfortunes we all experience and suffer, we also recognize moments of supreme joy and happiness, of beauty beyond description and peace that passeth all understanding. God gives us moments of tranquility in a world of strife so that we may pause and recognize our blessings.
The more fortunate among us know the source of this comfort and peace. As my older daughter noted on a day when shafts of sunlight pierced the clouds and lit up the newly-green fields, “How can anyone see this and not believe in God?” I often wonder where atheists turn for comfort when they are bereaved.
For me and my house, we prefer to take the easy way. Easy, because we know Someone did all the dirty work for us. No matter what trials might befall us, we know where to turn for comfort when we are oppressed by the day-to-day horrors and evils of an imperfect world. I rather like that idea, don’t you?
Jesus’ death and resurrection is the classic example of how something good can come out of something seemingly bad. The technique of using trumped-up charges to get rid of a troublesome wandering preacher with a scary-big following must have seemed like a tidy a solution for the politicians of Jesus’ day. Who would have guessed they were actually fulfilling prophecy? And who could have imagined that the biggest miracle on the planet would shortly ensue?
The horror that Jesus’ followers and family must have felt as they watched him die on that cross can’t be measured. How much more immeasurable, then, was their joy in learning He rose again? And that they now had eternal life because of His sacrifice? Incredible.
The sun shines and the rain falls on both the good and the evil. While we can’t choose the destiny of others, we have been given the great blessing of choice for ourselves. The gift has been given. It’s up to us to accept it or not.
So on this most holy weekend, I wish you more peace than sorrow, more joy than despair, more beauty than malice. Whether or not you believe in Him, Jesus died for you as well as me, and not one of us is worthy of His gift.
But it’s pretty darned spiffy that He gave it.