• A friend from our church in Arkansas, a young man the same age as my brother Tyler, died yesterday in a 4-wheeler accident. He's been married a couple of years and leaves behind a very young widow and a son who will never remember his father.
• A college student in one of Lucas' classes at NNU was diagnosed with a very rare form of breast cancer six months ago at the age of 20. She is only the fourth person in the U.S. to be diagnosed with this type of cancer, and the first at such a young age. She had a mastectomy, is engaged to be married, and has to have mammograms on her remaining breast at least every three months to make sure the cancer has not spread.
• Our next door neighbor, a 7-year-old hispanic girl, came to me with tears in her eyes this week. The girls at her new school told her that they didn't want to be her friend because she isn't popular and she is fat. Her tender wounded heart broke mine.
• A young mom sat in her truck in front of our yard sale this weekend talking on the phone. When she finally got out and came up to the sale, she told me that she had been on the phone with the real estate agent and the bank. They could not sell their home and it had foreclosed, and now they would be forced to leave their house. Her husband's construction business went under when the market here tanked, and he has only been able to find sporadic odd jobs.
• Another neighbor told me that her house foreclosed as well. She and her husband put $40,000 down on their home a few years ago, but the values have dropped so drastically that they cannot sell it and now are being forced to foreclose and lose all they invested. Her husband lost his job and cannot find work. Three other homes on our street have foreclosed this summer as well and are now sitting empty.
•A family in our community recently woke up to find one of their 5-month-old twins unexplainably dead. Our pastor is the chaplain for the police department and was called in to help comfort the family. He officiated a funeral for that tiny baby two days later.
What can we do with this barrage of suffering in our world? These are just the few instances that I have personally encountered in recent days. Is God unloving to allow such suffering? What can I tell those who are not believers when they face such heartache? What can I even tell believers?
When I was thinking about all of this pain and suffering, it reminded me of this post from my brother's blog this week. He wrote about the death of our great Aunt and how it reminded him of the essentiality of the gospel.
And that is the bottom line. All of this suffering points us to this truth: this is not the way it is supposed to be. There should be no young widows and fatherless sons. There should be no cancer. No young wounded hearts, no financial devastation, no dead 5-month-old babies.
Our world is fallen, and sin has left no life untouched. And that is what makes the gospel so essential. Is God unloving because he allows such suffering? No! God is so loving that He has made a way for reconciliation of God and man and restoration of creation through the sinless life, the death, the burial and the resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.
Or to put the essential Gospel into seven little words that even my 2-year-old learned this week for Awana:
"God loved us, and sent His Son."