What a week! Marathon bombings, fertilizer plant explosions, an entire city shut down for a massive man hunt. Honestly, it’s enough to make any one want to build an underground bunker and hide away forever. I know there are a gazillion people sharing their thoughts on these events, and you may be sick of hearing about it, but I’d like to share my humble thoughts just the same.
I’m sure most of you can relate to the fact that my response to massive tragic events changes depending on what stage of life I’m in. The first big tragic event I remember reacting to was Columbine. That brought a lot of confusion because, up until that point, I honestly didn’t know that humans could be that cruel. Then 9/11 came with a lot of fear. More recently, the movie theater shooting in Colorado left me thinking “seriously, WTF?” and all I could do was cry as I read stories about the Newton Elementary school shootings.
The Boston Marathon bombings are coming at a very unique time in my life. As a first time mom, I viewed this horrific event with something I’ve never really felt before: desperate hope. I’m not talking about the phony optimism that is often misunderstood as hope. Memes with inspirational quotes, happy song lyrics, and messages posted by well meaning but out of touch people telling us all just to stay strong and stick together aren’t real signs of hope. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying these things are bad, in fact I can’t get enough of the Mr. Roger’s quote about finding the helpers, but these things are quick fixes. They are responses born of a generation that refuses to think about anything for longer than 30 seconds. We hear about the tragedy, we respond, we move on.
The desperate hope I’m talking about is the hope you cling to when your only other choice is to curl up and die. It’s a hope in something greater than yourself, greater than your circumstances. It’s the hope you find only in your most hopeless moments. The violence and evil that exists globally is absolutely soul crushing. It’s enough to make even the strongest people wonder if it’s really worth it to go on.
For me, the source of that hope is Jesus Christ and my reason to cling to such hope is my son. When Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, He showed the world once and for all that he was Lord over sin and death. Some people have a hard time with this because they think that if Jesus truly conquered sin and death, bad things wouldn’t keep happening. But they’re skipping ahead in the story. Eventually, that will be the case when Jesus returns and banishes sin and death once and for all. But at this point in the story, humans, freewill, sin and death still exist. I honestly don’t know why, but there is some reason that God is keeping us all alive on this retched planet. The good news is that He doesn’t expect us to deal with life’s crap storms on our own. We have the Bible, the Holy Spirit and our fellow Christians to strengthen our steps and get us through another day. Living on this earth is hard, but my desperate hope comes from the fact that I know, with every ounce of my being, that when the story ends the goodness of God will prevail. Evil may win some of the battles, but our good God will win the war.
I said earlier that my son has inspired me to grab onto this desperate hope. All that theology I just spewed out in the previous paragraph? I’ve known that since I was 10. So why am I know just starting to act on it and truly believe it? Because now there is proof that life will exist after me. Of course, this is also something I’ve known for quite a while, but it has so much more impact now. I know that my thoughts and my actions will directly affect another tiny human being. I know that the world I create now is going to affect someone I love after I’m dead. I don’t have the privilege of simply living and dying. I have a legacy and I will build a better world for him, even if that means clawing my way through the sludge and slime that is humanity.
I’m not a great person. I doubt I’ll make any real significant changes in this life. But even if all I manage to do is give my son hope, crazy, stupid, irrational hope in a divine being he can’t see, then I’ve at least given him the tool to carry on and to impact this world in whatever way God has planned.
Friends, tomorrow is Monday. We have to get out of bed, go to work, take the kids to school, avoid crazy freeway drivers and, if we’re lucky, do it all again on Tuesday. If you can some how find the strength within yourself to keep doing that, more power to you. But if you’re like me and you’re all out of mirror pep talks and the inspirational quotes on Facebook are simply making you more cynical, cling to the desperate hope.