“To the woman he said ‘I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you will bring forth children… and to Adam he said… cursed is the ground because of you, in pain you shall eat of it all of the days of your life; thorns and thistles it will bring forth for you…” Gen 3:16-18
I’m tired. COVID-19 has ravaged the world with sickness, death, and fear. Loved ones are passing away, isolation from quarantine is taking a toll on mental health, and people are being laid off in a stop-and-go economy. I’m tired. Tonight I wanted to pray with a church member about to enter surgery, but I couldn’t because my wife has COVID and I’m in quarantine. Pastors all around the world are trying to shepherd hurting people but often times can’t because of restrictions. I’m so tired! A worldwide viral outbreak has been politically weaponized. Bi-partisan politics dominates the public square, each side bolstered by their own ‘facts’ and ‘data,’ a postmodern irony of our own epistemological undoing. I’m tired. Christians are facing almost certain martyrdom in Afghanistan and Western Christians (including myself) are so distracted with such less important things. I’m tired. I am absolutely exhausted of the evangelical intramural debates over secondary and tertiary issues and social media “well-actually(s).” I’m tired. I’m so very tired.
My guess is you are too.
The world is full of both beauty and pain, blessing, and cursing, joy and sadness. A man can work hard and enjoy the fruit of his labor. Yet, that labor is cursed with thorns and thistles. A woman can experience the joy of bringing life into the world through the miracle that is birth. Yet, it is through pain and suffering. “The rainbow is formed in the very cloud that brings the rain“, says Geerhardus Vos in his Biblical Theology. God created all things good, yes, very good. Yet, in the Christian paradigm, sin has marred the created order bringing chaos, suffering, death, sorrow, grief, anxiety, and despair. So, while roses continue to bloom, underneath the beauty of God’s creative excellence lies the thorn. Our creativity and work has thorns. Childbirth has thorns. The unfathomably majestic creation of God now bears prickly, sticky, blood-producing thorns. So we love, yet suffer loss. Our bodies are amazingly fine tuned, yet they get sick and suffer. This is life in the already-not yet. God’s creation is good, and his Kingdom is here, and I am filled with gratitude for all the goodness and wonderful beauty that exists in the world- Yet, it’s not the way it was designed to be and one day he will consummate the Kingdom and take his seat over the new heaven and the new earth and we will rejoice in the glory of all that is perfect.
But, right now… I’m tired. So are you. So here’s where my heart finds encouragement: King Jesus takes that which mars his creation and uses it as an instrument of renewal and restoration. Thorns, the very symbol of sin itself in Genesis 3, are twisted and knotted together to make a crown for our Savior. While the soldiers mocked him, they were completely unaware that they were actually giving Jesus his coronation. Through death, the epitome of sin, came our atonement. The grave, a symbol of the finality of life was overcome in the resurrection. Beloved, hurting soul, all that wrong in this world, Jesus is making right.
So, are you tired? Oh, me too. Me too. I can’t give you the grace to persevere through this chaotic time, but God can strengthen and uphold you and ‘keep you from stumbling’ (cf. Jude 24). If Jesus can bring victory and glory and triumph and praise out of the shadows, then all I can tell you is that your suffering is not in vain. He sees it. He knows it. He feels it. Trust Jesus. When the world seems to be falling apart at the seams, trust Jesus! When life is overwhelming and confusing and chaotic, trust Jesus! When your soul is ripped from your chest because you’re experiencing a degree of suffering you’ve never known, trust Jesus. If the death of a Jew on a Roman torture device 2000 years ago in an insignificant part of the world can bring salvation to humanity- then I promise that there is more ahead of you than you can even image.
Soli. Deo. Gloria.
Be blessed, little lambs…