Years ago, I heard a pastor named Dave Rolph speak at a memorial service. He spoke about life and death, and he said something like this: “The reason we hate death so much is that God created a world where death didn’t exist. Our hearts rebel against the pain of separation, because it was never God’s original intent that death and sin would enter the world.” I can almost hear him speaking those words over a decade later. They resonated within the core of my heart and soul; my God did not create or desire death and suffering for His people.
Often, I return to this basic truth. Often, I speak it over myself, and my friends, as we walk through heartbreak. This week, my heart has broken: for misunderstandings, for lost loves, for the death of three friends, for the children who suffer, for the churches that are bulldozed in Calais refugee camps, for the reality of a world shattered by sin. As I have written before, these are the places where I must preach the Gospel to myself. I am reading through the minor prophets: Jonah, Micah, Habbakuk, Zephaniah. I wish I knew more people today with these names. This week, I encountered a verse I have missed until now: “You went out for the salvation of your people, for the salvation of your anointed.” Habakkuk 3:13 In the places where we encounter pain and suffering, perhaps one of the most commonly asked questions is exceedingly simple: “Where is God?”
This question amplifies from a query to a scream in the places of pain in our lives. The escalation is quick but complete. If there is a good God, why is my world so broken? If there is a loving Father, how can He stand by and let our lives feel shattered? I am reminded, over and over again, that God is going forth for salvation. He accomplishes it in-and-through our pain and heartaches. He redeems refugee crises and leukemia diagnosis and even the grave. If you sit and tell me one hundred pains, I can sit and tell you one hundred miracles.
Our character is shaped by the places where we trust and see God redeeming good, even where our hearts break.
This week, I sat in a meeting and wept. I heard news of bitterness that caught me off guard with its harsh effects. As Christians, the redeemed body of a living King, we are called to pursue peace, holiness, and unity. What I heard was the opposite of these things, from other followers of Jesus. In light of this, I was reminded of another Scripture I discovered this week, Mark 6:12 in the MSG: “They preached with joyful urgency that life can be radically different.”
When our hearts break, we are reminded that our lives tell the story of a radically different ending. We proclaim, with an urgency that must also be joyful, that our God is king forever. He will wipe away every tear from our eyes, and His kingdom will never end. When our hearts break, catch sight of His love; and know that in the end of the story, our breathtaking joy will be seeing His love in our lives, forever and ever, world without end.