Just today God answered a prayer of mine in a way that would surprise most people. How did God answer the prayer? He told me another story, this time through my wife. She’d seen a post on Facebook about a couple from Ohio that just overdosed on heroin (9/4/2016). A picture on Google can be seen of them parked in their vehicle, seat belts holding them in their positions, appearing to be on death’s very cliff. Neither of them appear to be conscious. There was someone else in the vehicle who was very alert, that sat in the second row, also belted in, with his pajamas on. He’s four years old and quiet in the car seat. Probably wondering when his parents were going to “wake up” and make it to wherever they’d planned, the child could only wait and hope. Was it to the grocery store? The playground? A friend’s house?
So, this is my version of God answering a prayer? Yes. I’ve been praying for a way to demonstrate what God is doing “behind the scenes.” This time the answer came in the form of a tragedy. I feel the story’s timing functioned as a reminder of something most of us have forgotten, ignored, become numb to, or even have never been exposed to. This story is about a type of pain that all of us can feel, even when it isn’t our own. This is a pain that God feels more than any of us. Loss of love.
How many of us can imagine a child, perhaps our own in that car seat, waiting until mom and dad recovered? How many of us cringe at what that child might end up storing inside its heart once it discovers they’re gone? He’s only been here to brighten this world for four short years and has been confronted with a terrible, dramatic, and needless loss of love. I get a steady dose of stories about babies being born to parents already in addiction to something, so it breaks the heart to hear another story of a child that faces such a potentially challenging future; one that could lack security, happiness and especially parents that love him. I believe God was grieving again while looking through the lens that framed the shot of this Ohio family in their car.
I’ve chosen a different shot (above) and a different lens to focus the point I’m trying to make. The shot above is of two children in Bangladesh, abandoned. This time the lens is much larger. God sees the entire world sitting in a train stop waiting for hope. Most of us never see the tragedies that God sees every day. Most of us spend our lives naturally trying to avoid such painful imagery. Most of us can’t see (or refuse to see) how overwhelmed and how messed up societies are, even our own. Some people are often isolated enough or busy enough to be “lucky” in life. Is that luck, though? Is part of the definition of being lucky being able to avoid tragedy and emotional pain?
This story about a tragedy is an attempt to remind us that the story of humanity has been and continues to be …a tragedy! This article is an attempt to compel us to see how overwhelmed the world is with its addictions and the tragic long-term consequences. Experiencing this painful loss of love should make us all cry for HELP!
Unfortunately, tragedies may have to wake us from our slumber. We suddenly discover we’re actually in a battle… for our children, for other’s children, for societies and for future generations. The love we treasure most, life, can be lost! The photo of the child, in his pajamas, causes us pain because we know with God’s help this tragedy would’ve been avoided! God wants tragedies like this one and others to cease. He wants real hope instead. Perhaps in some way the child was actually rescued from a sinking ship but God never wanted the ship to sink in the first place.
Jesus didn’t see God as being isolated from tragedies or numb to the pain in the world. That’s Jesus’ reason for coming into the world, to be a remedy for it, to be a healer of it, and ultimately to show us that evil’s poisonous reach is limited. Through Jesus’ resurrection the world is allowed to see a glimpse of what real hope could do for the world right now. He taught a prayer that says God’s desire is for His love, hope, mercy, forgiveness and righteousness to rule the entire world. Evil and death will not have the last word. Deliverance will! This prayer was revolutionary!
Jesus’ prayer in Matthew 6:9-15 and Luke 11:1-13, known as the Lord’s prayer, is actually a cry to God for help, help in bringing real hope to a tragic mess. Jesus taught the disciples that they were specially chosen to launch God’s love, mercy, forgiveness and righteousness throughout the entire world. They were to do this because Jesus was (and is) King of heaven and earth (Matthew 28:16-20). That inevitably meant the disciples were going to battle evil forces in their generation, whether it be idolatry, hatred, neglect, corruption, or brutality, etc. Those forces were competing against Jesus bringing His kingdom to birth in their world in a real way, in their communities, through their countrymen and their children. Imagine the battle taking place! People were really addicted to evil ways.
We’re discovering we’re still in the same battle 2000 years later! There’s a real loss of genuine love. People are still being found addicted to evil ways. We are not supposed to be so proud that we numb ourselves, isolate ourselves, or ignore the pain the world is in. We need to cry to God for help in prayer! We also need to pray for this tragedy in Ohio. We need to pray for all kinds of tragedies but we need to also pray for something greater, something that seeks to prevent tragedies, something that heals families, communities and nations. We need to pray, together, for what God wants in the world, real hope. Today, we face the same evil forces that seek to erode and destroy the social fabric of all people and all cultures but God is still able to deliver us through Jesus’ kingdom.
Can you see how the world is in a tragic condition? Will you help bring remedies and healing for others addicted to evil? Will you help us pray for God’s kingdom to continue its growth here locally, and around the world… to bring God’s genuine love, mercy, forgiveness and righteousness to birth in this generation and the next? Will you help us in the battle to persuade faith and devotion toward Jesus instead of ignoring the pain of corruption, idolatry, hatred, neglect, and brutality?
Please, reply to TheAzureBlue.firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s continue the mission Jesus began with his disciples.