Two teeny tiny words that can convey a significant inconvenience or an entire world of grief.
Maybe it’s relatively minor like your furnace stopped working or your wife got in a fender bender on the way to work or your child needs braces. Expensive predicaments for sure, but not desperate.
But maybe you’ve received news that stops you in your tracks. A sudden death. A natural disaster. A criminal allegation. An unexpected diagnosis. A shocking infidelity.
News so bad it feels like it may be the death of you. Something so terrible you wake up each morning hoping it was a nightmare.
It may be devastation brought on by someone’s sin. Or it may be devastation brought on by no one’s fault at all. But you’re devastated, nonetheless.
This is real life. Maybe it’s the real life of a friend of a friend. Maybe it’s the real life of your neighbor or co-worker or sister or small group friend. This kind of devastation is happening all around you right now. Or maybe it’s happening to you right now. Actual devastation and personal carnage—today.
Is there any hope? Is there anything we can say or do to help? Is there anywhere we can turn or any way we can make it better?
In the horrible face of that kind of darkness, I hesitate to give the Sunday School answer: Jesus. It seems trite.
I call on each of us, if there’s a friend in crisis, a friend in agony, a friend in deep, deep need:
Be their friend.
Be loyal. Gracious. Patient. Present. Sit with them at the hospital. Listen to them late into the night. Hug them as they cry. Hold their hand in the courthouse or the funeral home. And commit to persist for the long haul. Be their friend.
But I also call on each of us, trite as it may seem, to be wise and brave enough to whisper the only true answer to their questions. The only true balm to their wounds. The only true hope for their despair.
Because this life, as good as it can be, does not last. It will end. Either the illusion will be shattered with some god-awful news or the sands of time will simply run out.
God saw our sad predicament. He saw the depth of our excruciating sorrows and pains and endless anguish and he said,
Oh no to sin. No to betrayal and addiction and abuse. No to war and murder and cruelty. No to pain and disease. No to fear and suffering. Oh no to death and its forever goodbye.
Everyone’s life is inevitably sad, tragic and temporary. Unless… Jesus. He clears away every evil and hurtful thing and makes a way for you to have a new and living hope.
When today is dark, there’s promise of a new day. When we receive bad news, Jesus preaches good. When we face death, we see beyond to new, perfect, painless, beautiful, eternal life. This moment may feel unbearable, but one day, as the 15th century mystic Julian of Norwich wrote:
“All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”
That’s why Jesus isn’t a trite answer even in the absolute darkest hour. He promises ultimate deliverance from every trouble and affliction. May you bring His peace to those living through their worst nightmares. And may you call on His name when bad news comes for you.
“When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all” (Psalm 34:17-19).