Two weeks ago I received a text message from my friend Stephanie that reminded me this year marked the 18 year anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda. I am guilty in admitting to you that it did not stop me in the middle of my tracks that day. There were still meetings scheduled and classes to attend, but it only took me a few hours for that reminder to really sink in. Sitting in a Good Friday service, I received a message that shared the darkness of that day while also explaining the hope that hides behind such darkness. Hope is a concept I often cling to, but it was hard for me on this day. As I remembered the Rwandese people entering a time of mourning, I begged God to tell me how it is possible that they could find hope. How, in remembering the fear and pain of their history, could they find hope? It is in moments like this that I realize my faith is far too easily shaken.
It is on Good Friday, though, that I am reminded I am never alone in my questioning God. Look at the words that Jesus himself cried out on the cross: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? We all have our moments of questions and we all experience the heart wrenching moments before we have answers. Jesus’ words lead me to David’s words written in Psalm 22.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from the words of my groaning?
My god, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, but I find no rest.
I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
it has melted within me.
But you, LORD, do not be far from me.
You are my strength; come quickly to help me.
I cried out to God as my heart imagined pain. The pain of the cross. The pain of the genocide. The pain of the mourning. Two thousand years ago, Christ laid down his life to save us. Yes, us, the dust of this world who are undeserving of such love. Yet he loved us and in spite of this love, we still live in darkness. That is why I cry at night. That is why there are times that the tears which flow are hard to stop. Oh God, save us!
And He does.
For after death comes life. After violence comes peace. After mourning comes joy. Turn to the words of Paul in I Corinthians and you read what I find to be some of the most powerful scripture in the Bible:
Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed–in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
WHERE, O DEATH, IS YOUR VICTORY? WHERE, O DEATH, IS YOUR STING?
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
There is hope in the resurrection and for that we must be grateful. There is pain in this world. It is all around us and it is unavoidable. You can not read the news or watch television or listen to the radio, but the pain still exists. The pain is still sleeping under a bridge at night or pushing innocent children into slavery. My heart aches everyday at school as I learn more about this world that feels as though it is crumbling around me. But remember that there is beauty as well. When my heart cried out for the pain of Rwanda, I remembered my friends there. Ngoga, Marcelene, Emily, Pascasie, Maurice and so many others. Their smiles, courage and passion have made me realize that out of pain there can still be beauty. I learned more about hope from the people of Rwanda in ten short weeks than I have in most of my life.
I still think about Rwanda everyday and these recollections are what drive me to do my part to make the world a better place after my feet hit the floor each morning. I do my part by taking the time to listen to a friend. By encouraging those who feel as though they are at the end of their rope. By recycling. By taking a moment to appreciate the blossoms of spring. By praying for the pain in the world and thanking God for the beauty in the world. By spreading the hope of Christ through living a life of love.
What are the things that remind you the world is not actually so dark as it seems? Take time to remember these things each day and thank God that out of the ashes, beauty will rise. Remember that the pain of the cross came for a reason and the hope of the resurrection is not something to be taken for granted. We will all be changed and the world will no longer be the same.
For God will wipe every tear from our eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things will pass away.
This is our hope. Let us live it today.