This is my struggle, every day.
On the one hand, we have what my eyes tell me: This world is broken, dark, full of pain. I’ve lived a comfortable, easy life. Growing up, I never worried about having enough food to eat. I never was afraid of someone hitting me, hurting me, abusing me in any way. No one murdered my family in front of me, no one forced me into slavery to pay a debt that was not my own. I didn’t worry about the future. I was loved, and protected, and cared for. But that is the reality of millions around the world today.
Even a life as easy as mine has known pain, loss, suffering. I grew up in a constant state of transition, in the meeting place of many cultures. I learned at a young age that sooner or later, those you love will leave, and you will be left alone. I learned that it was better to be the one leaving than to be the one that was left. I lost my mother to cancer, a disease that slowly sucked the life and vitality from her until she was a shell of her former self, wasted and tired. I had my friend Jeferson cruelly ripped away from me and the others who loved him, pawn to murderous schemes, vengeance, and brutality. The girls I thought I loved didn’t love me in return. Those that loved me, I wanted nothing to do with. I ran from love, from vulnerability, from nakedness.
And my story is only one of almost 7 billion, each one knowing pain, loss, grief, and tears. Suffering unimaginable to me – brokenness, violation, betrayal, heartache, torture, agony, death, on a daily basis. I see this reality. I taste it. I live it. My story touches other stories, and I know that it is true. It is revolting, and heart rending. It is true.
On the other hand, we have what my heart whispers, and occasionally shouts – “Life is good.” Faith dwells quietly within me, and says the things I desperately long to believe are true:
“God is good.”
“The ultimate foundation of all reality is Love.”
“The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”
“Behold, I am making all things new. And I will wipe every tear from their eyes…”
“Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Consider the lilies of the field, and the birds of the air, and consider how much more your heavenly Father cares for you.”
“The universe is a friendly place.”
“There is enough for everyone.”
“Do not be afraid.”
“Love conquers all.”
“On that day, death shall die.”
“The fruit on that tree will be for the healing of the nations.”
“I love you. I love you. I love you.”
I want to believe those are true sayings. At my best, I do believe they are true. Yet it is hard – so hard – to daily live as if they were true. I guess that is where faith comes in – that what we see around us is not the final word, is not ultimately all there is. And I guess that is where hope comes in – our certainty that one day things will change, and justice and peace kiss, and things will make sense. And I guess that is where love comes in – to learn our proper place in creation, and be in right relationship with our God and with our neighbor.
Faith, hope, and love… But the greatest of these is love. Let us love each other then, not with words, but with actions, and with truth.