I’ve known for a long time that I tend to be powerfully affected by the weather. This summer has, nonetheless, tried me in new ways. This summer has been extraordinarily dry and hot in Texas. The heat and drought and relentless sun has done its best to suck the life out of my soul. Two weeks ago, though, the weather began to change, and with it, my countenance. Then, the bottom dropped out.
Two weeks ago, one of my best friends was arrested for child molestation. It would be nice to believe the accusations were unfounded, but they’re not. He’s admitted to years of destructive behavior involving children, and named all his victims.
It would be difficult to describe the whirlwind of shock and pain this has set in motion for all of us. His family, who I love as my own family, is facing the majority of the pain, as are, of course, his victims. My friend has ministered to numerous churches over his career, and they are all hurting too.
Emotions involve the usual suspects: hurt, betrayal, anger, sadness, and rage, but also include frustration, pity, fear, empathy, confusion, and love. Some are more intense than others, but all of them are appropriate, and all of them are understandable.
Of course his faith has been called into question in all this. Was it genuine? Was he masquerading as a real Christian all these years? Was it all just a lie?
My own take on all this is that it perfectly illustrates the destructiveness of sin. The truth is, we’re all victims here, my friend included. Sin got hold of him, he gave into it, and it took on a life of its own. And many have paid and are now paying the price. It’s what sin does. It’s how Satan works. My friend was not innocent in this, but he’s not the devil either. His faith was and is real, in my judgment, but so was his sin. The two are not mutually exclusive in him, as they are not mutually exclusive in any of us. This is real life in a fallen world, and it’s tragic . . . horrible . . . devastating.
And yet all of this is redeemable, but it’s not redeemable by us. God is the only one who can right all wrongs here. Some of those wrongs he may right in this life for some of us. But some of those wrongs will not be righted this side of heaven. But they will all be righted in the end, by a loving God whose heart is grieving in all of this with all of us. Christians talk a lot about free will at times like this, and I think with good reason. God has allowed us, in his wisdom, to maintain an absolutely free will in this life. One of the consequences of that decision is that we have tremendous capacity to hurt others. This has always been true, and as long as the earth keeps spinning, it will never change.
The key, I think, is not to look for God to fix any of this, or even explain it, at least not yet. In the midst of crushing pain, explanations wouldn’t do us any good anyway. Instead, I think the best we can do is to look for him in the midst of our grief to come alongside us, reveal himself to us in the ways he chooses to reveal himself to us, and to heal, by his love, our bleeding, broken, desperate hearts. We need to also remember that there is space in all this for the full gamut of human emotion — hurt, anger, rage, frustration, and even joy and peace and hope. God is bigger than this, of that I’m sure. But nothing will happen quickly here . . . .
More to come . . . .