March 08, 2019
When my children were young they watched a cartoon TV show that had many characters, including Murky Dismal and his driver, Lurky. They lived in a part of the kingdom called the “Pits” and Murky’s mission was to strip the world of color, turning everything gray. Colorful places were happy and beautiful, so Murky wanted to destroy all color and make the world as dismal as he was.
Sometimes I’ve wished it was that easy to explain the heartache, suffering and evil in the world–someone is driving around stripping the world of color and of joy. We know there are those who bring about suffering for others and spread evil in the world by their words and actions. There may be dark forces in the world–a presence of evil we’ve sometimes called Satan–that seeks only destruction and hatred. And there is a dark part of humans that leads to sinful actions that strip the world of joy.
But even all this does not explain all the suffering and heartache in life. We are often left with the complex question “why?” Why, O God, do good people suffer? Why do children become deathly sick? Why is the United Methodist Church, so full of good and faithful people doing Jesus’ work around the world, full of pain in these days? That “why?” question becomes a cry to God for understanding, relief and hope.
When I asked you last fall what you’d like to hear about this year in our series What the Bible Really Says About… many of you asked questions about suffering and evil. Some of those questions were the ones I listed above and others were “where are you, O God, when there is suffering?” and “how can we help end the evil in the world?”
Whew! These are hard questions. We’re going to tackle some of them during this season of Lent, looking at Confronting Suffering and Evil during our sermon series, which begins this Sunday, March 10. I can’t promise you definite answers to these questions, but we’ll look deeply into Scripture and see what God says to us.
This I believe: God longs for our world to be full of color and joy and life abundant for all of us. Our call is to join with God to work to bring this about.
And I love this line from the Leonard Cohen song “Anthem” — “there is a crack in everything. That’s where the light gets in.” God’s light, hope, mercy and joy.