Some bad news stories are easier to take than others. For instance, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft says that Tom Brady is willing to play for six or seven more years. Fans of the thirty-one other NFL teams are not happy about this news.
Meanwhile, a “supermassive” black hole that can devour anything in its path is hurtling through space at five million miles an hour. However, it is currently eight billion light-years from Earth, so we’re safe for the moment. And my least favorite vegetable is in the news: scientists have converted a spinach leaf into a tiny, beating human heart muscle.
Other bad news is beyond terrible. The families of those who were killed by Khalid Masood last week in London are continuing to grieve their senseless and tragic loss. Those injured in the attack are trying to recover.
Two victims I hadn’t considered are Masood’s wife and mother. His wife issued a statement this morning: “I am saddened and shocked by what Khalid has done. I totally condemn his actions. I express my condolences to the families of the victims that have died, and wish a speedy recovery to all the injured.” And his mother is telling reporters that she has “shed many tears for the people caught up in this horrendous incident.” Today they are grieving Masood’s death and all the deaths he caused. I cannot imagine such pain.
Where is the Christian faith when we face life’s darkest days?
Peter Wehner is one of my favorite political thinkers and writers. He served in the last three Republican presidential administrations and is currently a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, DC. His latest New York Times article is titled “After Great Pain, Where Is God?” He asks of his own Christian faith, “If a child dies, if the cancer doesn’t go into remission, if the marriage breaks apart, how much good is that exactly?” We can say that God comforts people in their pain, but is that all we can say?
Wehner notes the consolation that comes from being part of a Christian community and the hope found in our eternal inheritance. Then he describes “consolation in the conviction that we are part of an unfolding drama with a purpose.” His reflections here are especially poignant: “At any particular moment in time I may not have a clue as to what that precise purpose is, but I believe, as a matter of faith, that the story has an author, that difficult chapters need not be defining chapters and that even the broken areas of our lives can be redeemed.”
Wehner captures the distinctiveness of biblical faith. Job testified, “Though he slay me, I will hope in him” (Job 13:15). Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42).
Our faith is most persuasive when it is most tested. Think about those people whose faith made the greatest impression on you. Was it their trust in good times or in hard times? When faith in a loving God was easy or when it was challenged?
The harder it is to trust in God, the more we need to trust in God. Peter Wehner believes that “difficult chapters need not be defining chapters.”
Do you agree?
NOTE: I invite you to join me for a seminar I am teaching on how to engage the culture for Christ. You can register here for the four-week course. The class meets from March 30 to April 20, 6:30 to 8:30 PM on Thursday nights at Dallas Baptist University. We will develop a Christian worldview, understand trends in the culture, and learn how to speak the truth in love on topics from medical ethics to the LGBTQ community. The class is almost full, so sign up today.