last week, i sat at my desk on a Thursday afternoon and put a hand over my mouth in shock.
i am a social worker and my job is to find homes for foster kids. i read countless police intakes. i see, in bold black and white print, the unfortunately vivid proof of human capacity for evil.
yeah, i used that word.
it’s not a very popular one.
it’s not one that i use on a regular basis, because the reaction to it is generally less than positive.
but there is definitely evil that exists in this world, and it shows up [at least in my world] every single day.
i think that a lot of people would have agreed with me on Thursday. that was the day that a Seattle university became the most recent in a long line of violent scenes on campuses across the country. it’s not at all as uncommon as i, and everyone else, would hope.
man, i was bummed.
yet another instance of tragedy.
i went out to dinner with a good friend on Friday night, and she asked me how i deal with the reality of my job. she tilted her head and looked at me in a compassionate way.
her question: how do i not crumble under the weight of being faced, day after day, with such tragic reality?
i paused and thought about the day before. it was an example of what i consider to be a great truth:
things are not as they ought to be.
regardless of personal value systems, religious [or non-religious] beliefs, or life experiences . . . no matter if someone is old or young, rich or poor, highly educated or hates school . . . and even if somebody hasn’t really thought about it until that exact moment, i have discovered that most agree with this statement.
in big ways or in mundane, everyday occurrences.
things are not as they ought to be.
sometimes, the people that you love and the ones that you trust the most, they really let you down. the hopes that you had for the future don’t pan out the way that you anticipated. something that never should’ve happened to you, happened. other people become responsible for your well-being and you never gave them permission. but the impact exists and it hurts.
and the fear is real, and the tears come without warning.
things happen on a grand scale that make you and i feel so small, so unable to help.
man, how do you deal?
i don’t have a formula. nothing that has 5 steps and gets elaborated on for pages and pages, then winds up in the self-help section.
but i do cling to this truth:
someday, God will make all things new.
now, i really like poetry. i used to read it a lot and even write it. there’s lots of depressing and beautiful and fascinating things that people have written down over the years. sometimes i don’t even care that i can’t understand what the person is really trying to say, i just get lost in the combination of words.
but sometimes i want words to be beautiful and also mean something.
to me, there is nothing more poetic than the words i find in the Bible.
listen to some of this stuff . . .
so, one of my favorites is in a book called Ecclesiastes [which is just an awesome word in its own right]. the author was very poetic and liked to string words together in a way that captures my attention.
He has made everything beautiful in its time.
also, He has put eternity into the human heart,
yet we cannot find out what God is doing from beginning to end.
[chapter 3, verse 11]
those words captivate my mind. everything will be beautiful? i find this concept almost too wonderful to grasp. can you imagine? i look at this way: the longing for eternity is ingrained in who i am. i want forever. not just today, but always. and it’s going to be beautiful? sign me up.
yet, i cannot know what God is doing from beginning to end.
now, some people might read that and think that God is keeping secrets.
like, He is a vindictive 12 year old that whispers something to this best friend but won’t tell anybody else. man, i sure hope that’s not who God is. i would really not like that.
i see it more like this: God knows that i am smart, but he also knows that i’m not THAT smart. He looks at me and says, “aw. she’s so cute. look at her. she tries so hard and i love her so much. she’s really good at some stuff, and really bad at others. i’m really proud of her and all that she can do and understand. she’s awesome.”
but there’s some things that, no matter how hard i try, i will never understand. like physics and biology and well . . . any science.
i don’t think God keeps stuff from us because He doesn’t want us to know. i think He is waiting because He knows we’re not ready yet.
later on in the Bible, there’s a guy named John who gets in trouble for doing stuff that other people don’t like, and he gets sent to an island. while he’s there, by himself, he has a lot of time to think. and he writes down a vision that he has.
in it, God is speaking. He’s on a throne and He says:
behold, i am making all things new.
write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.
[chapter 21, verse 5]
all things new?!
that sounds really nice.
the families who have been torn apart by fighting, yelling words at each other that cut deeply and bring tears? the scenarios that end up splashed across the news stations, on every tv in the country, causing wide eyes and angry shaking heads? the days when hope seems scarce and distant because its just been so long since anything wasn’t broken?
all of that will be made new?
and God guarantees that even though i can’t see it today, and maybe not tomorrow either . . . He is worth trusting. it’s right there. and John wrote it down because he believed it.
i believe it, too.
and i know that it might seem foolish. perhaps i am blissfully naive to think that the words in the Bible might actually be true. maybe i’m silly to think that one day, God will make everything new.
but honestly, i don’t have a choice.
if i don’t believe in this, i’m sunk.
if God can’t make all things new, then I am useless. why be a social worker? why make any effort to do something that matters? why even get out of bed in the morning?
i have a song to share with you. i really like it. especially around 1 minute, 45 seconds.
i heard that song today and i started to weep.
not just a few sparkling, pretty tears on my face. i’m talking the ugly cry.
the kind of crying that speaks of days upon days of hearing tragic stories. the kind of tears that reflect a heart desperately hoping for something beyond this world, as broken as it is, to put my hope in.
and as i wept, i prayed for the strength to keep living in a world that is not YET made new.
all hope is not lost.