A Rock in a Hurricane

There is incomprehensible suffering in this world.  It shouldn’t be! our hearts cry out.  And our hearts are right.  A gunman shouldn’t shoot 26 people in cold blood, 20 of them defenseless children, in an elementary school. A group of men shouldn’t gang rape a woman on a public bus and then throw her off it for dead. Terrorists shouldn’t run airplanes into buildings. A country’s entire economic system shouldn’t be dependent upon labor inhumanely exacted from black slaves. A husband shouldn’t be so arrogant and self-centered when his wife is tired and needs encouragement.

And yet these things happen. They happen every day. We hear about some in the news. Most don’t draw much media coverage at all. And in light of such horrors, people begin to look for relief from the horrors that surround them—and from the horrors that torment them.

Christianity has the answer, but it might not be exactly what you think it is. To be very clear, Jesus is the answer. What you need in the middle of terror—any terror or calamity or sorrow or hardship that you’ve ever faced, are facing right now, or ever will face—is Jesus right there, right beside you, with his strong, sovereign arms around you ensuring you that this pain won’t consume you.

I would gently and lovingly caution you, however, from misunderstanding what I mean when I say that Jesus is the answer. What I don’t mean is that you need Jesus so that big, strong Jesus can remove you from your terror or calamity or sorrow or hardship. In fact, Jesus and the inspired biblical writers make it very clear that following him would increase the tribulations you face in this world (John 16:33; Romans 8:17; Philippians 1:29; 2 Thessalonians 3:2-4; 1 Peter 2:20). What I mean when I say that Jesus is the answer to your deepest longings and most pointed pains is that you need Jesus to be the rock under your feet so that when the winds blow and when the storm comes, while you may be struck hard by the merciless waves, you won’t be utterly shaken and washed away.

Jesus doesn’t promise to remove all your heartache. He promises to walk beside you through it and ensure it doesn’t consume you. That is the hope we have in him. This rock-solid truth is what the world longs for and can’t find. As we enter 2013, I pray that you wouldn’t be one of those left wanting.

Lincoln

English: Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth Presid...

Abraham Lincoln, (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In honor of the recent release of the movie Lincoln, I’ve compiled a couple of articles by my pastor that have to do with the president and a brief description of each.

Pastor John Piper’s article “Abraham Lincoln’s Path to Divine Providence” recounts how “personal and national suffering drew Lincoln into the reality of God, rather than pushing him away.”  May we have the same reaction.  May suffering cause us to run to Jesus rather than from him.

In “Admiring and Disillusioned, I Turn from Lincoln to Jesus,” Pastor John examines in depths some of Lincoln’s views toward blacks–at least the views he held during one specific debate for a  Senate seat in 1858, which is not to say his views never changed.  Upon closer examination, Pastor John concludes by acknowledging any and all man’s fallibilities and by calling us to cling ever more tightly to Jesus, the one hero who will never disappoint.  (Click here to read a poem I wrote with that exact theme entitled “One Hero“.)

A third article John Piper has written about Abraham Lincoln is called “The Slow Fires of Misery.”  In it Pastor John gives us insight into Lincoln’s marriage to Mary Todd.  Although a very difficult marriage, Lincoln was faithful to his marriage vows–a fact that may have helped prepare him for perseverance amid the fires of the Civil War.

The last article I’ll feature here is called “Lincoln’s Logic on Slavery Applied to Abortion,” in which Pastor John compares the rights of unborn children in our day to the rights of enslaved blacks in Lincoln’s day.  Just like a man is a man of equal worth no matter the subtle gradient of his skin’s pigmentation, so too are children as much human at 41 weeks as they are at 39 weeks.

Enjoy these articles as you remember one of America’s truly great men.  Let us hold fast to the good we see portrayed in this man, let us flee from any evil, and let us cling ever more tightly to Jesus, our hero without equal.