The Cross and Ukraine

Because of the joyawaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.                                                                    Hebrews 12:2 NLT

He was destined before the foundation of the world, but was revealed at the end of the ages for your sake.                                                                                                                1 Peter 1:20 NRS

All of us who have seen the carnage in Ukraine whether in print or on the screen have been broken-hearted. The picture of an elderly woman kneeling in the street wailing for her dead husband is imprinted on my mind, as is that of a younger woman looking emptily at the bodies of her husband, brother, and brother-in-law in the court in front of her house. What are we to make of such horrors?

We are told many younger people are leaving the church because they cannot put the idea of a good, providential, all-powerful God together with the kind of a world depicted in scenes like these. How could a good God who can do anything allow such senseless tragedy, and so much of it? It seems to me that what we see here is a failure in Christian education. Where is a good God in the terrible things that are happening not only in Ukraine, but in Myanmar, and a host of other unnamed places? HE IS ON THE CROSS!

            Could God have made a world where it was impossible to deviate from his good will? Of course he could. But that would be a world where self-giving, self-denying love was also impossible. So he chose to make a world where refusal to do his will was a possibility. But suppose humans would, in utter foolishness, take up that latter option? What then? We could turn the good creation into an on-going train wreck, as we have done. What then? Could he stop it? Not without destroying all the sons and daughters of Adam. What then? He would enter into the suffering resulting from that wreck. He would take it all into himself. He would kneel in the street with that woman, or in front of her house with that woman, and if they would let him, enfold them in his arms. And he chose to do that, if necessary, before the world began.

            That is what we celebrate at Easter. Not the unselfish martyrdom of a good man. Oh no. We celebrate God taking ALL the horror, ALL the petty, senseless cruelty, ALL the accidental deaths, ALL, ALL, ALL of it into himself and giving back endless love. THAT is what the Cross is about. Embrace it for yourself and know that God is good.

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