This has been a week of terrible news. I have had to hold conversations with my younger children about matters that a father in a civilized society should never have to address. How do you explain the kidnapping and execution of an American journalist by terrorists to a thirteen year-old? How do you reconcile the exuberant humor and the excruciating depression of an actor your six year-old has seen on television and in movies? How do I explain rioting in the streets to my children? In addition to these larger stories, our little circle of relationships has been shaken by reports of a newborn in the NICU, a family member dealing with a cancer diagnosis and an impending divorce. What am I supposed to do with all this terrible news?
I suppose I have several options. I could ignore the world around me and focus only on me and mine, but that would require a complete media blackout for my entire family. I could deny the pain and difficulties that so many are suffering, but that would demand that I harden my heart and cease having any semblance of compassion. I could redouble my efforts in alleviating the burdens I see others bearing, but I am just one person with limited resources – I really cannot do much on my own. All these options are little consolation for those in real anguish.
“Unless the LORD had given me help, I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death. When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your unfailing love, LORD, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.” Psalm 94:17–19
It may seem cliché, but God is the answer to the problems we are forced to address. The psalmist declared that the Lord had given him help – supporting him when he was about to fall and consoling him when his worry was overwhelming. Whether it is the loss of a child, a spouse or a parent, God is present to help. Whether we are in the hospital, clinic or court, God is present to help. When we don’t know what to say or where to turn, it is a blessing to know that God is present to support and console.
I sometimes wonder how those who have intellectual or philosophical objections to the Biblical concept of God cope with the challenging crises of life. While my human reasoning may never be able to rationalize the violence and destruction we witness every day, I can find comfort in knowing God knows and will avenge. Where do those who cannot know the comfort of God turn when the headlines are so dark? When the news reports on the unthinkable, I am blessed to know that God’s thoughts are far beyond my own, and He is more than able to make sense of the circumstances and bring peace to those who suffer.
I cannot change what will be on the newscast tonight, but I can trust in the One who can bring justice to those who seek harm and joy to those who are hurting.