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God in a Messy World

This past Christmas season, for me, was a reminder that nothing is needed more around the world than the gospel. As our family gathered together, we found ourselves praying for the families whose lives were shattered by the killing of so many first graders in Newtown, Conn. We commented on how God had blessed us with good health, but we also mourned with a dear sister whose husband died after a fall and we grieved with one of our own missionaries in Eastern Europe whose wife also died in a fall.

I can’t remember a Christmas when the joy was blunted by as much human sorrow. My first reaction was, “Why does it have to be this way?” Yet, the more I thought about it, the more it seemed that this is what the birth of Christ was really all about.

Christ came into this messy world to be born in a dirty stable because things are not pretty. Life is messy. I was talking to a colleague about one of the sad events we were facing, and he said, “I don’t know how people deal with these kinds of losses when they don’t know God and have no hope.” Paul writes, “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that you sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.”

After the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, you could not help but notice how quickly people turned to God, the Church, and prayer. There is a reason for that. There are no real answers from a human perspective. The tragedy was too big for humans to deal with on their own.

That is the real message of Christmas. God came into this world so we can have the hope of eternal life. None of us escapes the sadness and messiness of this world, but we don’t have to face it alone. By faith in Christ we can live as those who are experiencing the fullness of life in Christ. This is what the angels were announcing when they sang, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.”

And now, as we look forward to Easter, we are reminded that God has a plan for redeeming what is broken. Christ came once, but He is coming again, and when He does He will come with power and authority to fix His broken, messy Creation. Let us face this broken world with faith in Christ, and invite others to find the eternal and abundant life He came to give.

Dr. Paul Kooistra, Reflection Jan 4, 2013
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