This has been one of the most depressing weeks of news I have ever experienced.
Jennifer Huston, the 38-year old mother from Dundee, was found dead by apparent suicide.
Six-year old Jenise Wright from Bremerton, Washington was murdered. A seventeen-year old boy was arrested and will be tried as an adult on murder charges.
The body Yosuke Onishi of Japan, missing on Mt. St. Helens since November, was found.
Race car driver Kevin Ward, Jr. was killed on the race track after he got out of his car to confront driver Tony Stewart, who inadvertently ran over Ward.
Four people were killed in a Clackamas County crash.
Police arrested the woman who killed her two-year old daughter and injured her other teenage daughter in Cannon Beach last week.
A two-year old reportedly drowned in a Washington lake today.
And of course, Robin Williams committed suicide.
My heart continues to pound thinking about the sadness of all this. All the injustice, the grief, the hopelessness, the lives lost. It makes me wonder how such terrible things can happen. It makes me see how people can ask how a loving God can allow such horrible things.
Now, I know that God does allow these things to happen, but not because He wants them to happen. God has no desire for anyone to hurt. We weren't made for that purpose. But God gave us the will to choose to serve Him or not. Because people don't serve Him, sin is in the world. And because sin is in the world, these kind of tragedies become everyday occurrences.
All these tragedies are stemmed from a choice. Some were specific direct choices that caused the tragedy. Others were choices that weren't meant for any harm. Williams and Huston chose to end their lives, leaving sadness for the people they left behind and securing for themselves an unfortunate eternity. The people who physically hurt other people chose to let evil fill their hearts and act it out on others. Ward chose to get out of his car on a racetrack with fast cars moving toward him. All of these were bad choices which could have been prevented.
But Onishi chose to hike on the mountain alone. He had no desire to die on the mountain, but hiking alone wasn't a very good choice. And the road people in Clackamas County chose not to spend the money to paint a road with lines and put up reasonable speed limit signs. And the driver of the car didn't use the caution one should use when driving at night on back country roads.
Why does God allow us to make such bad choices? He doesn't want anyone to be hurt. He doesn't want anyone to die needlessly. With the anger I feel about the death of Jenise Wright, consider how angry it makes the God who created her. But God wants us to choose Him. He wants us to consciously decide to commit our lives to Him. With the choice to follow Him comes the choice not to follow Him, which leads to the undesirable effects we have seen.
It seems odd that God would create a world knowing that it would be filled with sadness and injustice. He did create the world knowing it would not choose Him, but does that make Him hard and cold about our pain? No! This is best seen in the shorted verse in the Bible, John 11:35: "Jesus wept."
We think of sadness as a bad thing, something that if we were perfect we would never do. But while sadness is certainly a bad thing, it is not something that we experience because we have sin in our lives. Jesus was perfect; He never sinned. But He still cried. He wept because His friend Lazarus had died. Ironically, it wasn't Lazarus's death that caused Him to cry, since He knew He would raise Lazarus to life in a matter of minutes. Jesus knew all the other people He created and dearly loved who weren't going to choose Him. The wailers were wailing away by the tomb, filled with hopelessness and grief. Mary and Martha weren't even walking with faith, even knowing better than most people the power Jesus had.
And in that moment, Jesus may have even seen Jenise Wright, or Jennifer Huston, or Robin Williams, all of whom would go from life to death because of someone's choice. It was not what Jesus wanted. The Bible even says in I Peter 3:9 that God does not want anyone to perish, but instead that everyone come to repentance. But God has allowed people the choice to come to Him or to turn away from Him, which means that people are free to pursue their evil desires, often leading to pain and injustice for those who, while just as sinful, were certainly not deserving of such pain.
But think: if Jesus who knew no sin still felt such sadness about the lives lost while he was on earth, does God in heaven feel the same sadness? Likely, yes. No one sees the injustice more than God, who loves people so much to the point of giving His life for them, both the victim and the person committing the crime. God knew that He would have to experience this sadness if He was to allow us the choice to follow Him, but He also knew that this pain is only allowed for a time. There will be a day when the sadness of this world will be gone forever. No more sin equals no more injustice, no more pain, and no more sadness. And that day will only be experienced by those who have the hope of Jesus in their hearts, who have made the choice to serve and follow God Jehovah.
So if you do not have this hope, come to Jesus right now. Fall on your knees and cry out to Him to give you this hope. Ask forgiveness for the sins you have done and the bad choices you have made, and choose to follow Jesus through any mountain and valley He guides you through. It doesn't matter what you have done; we are all sinners deserving of death, but given life through Christ's love and grace. Life will still be filled with sadness, but you will have the everlasting hope of eternal life with Jesus to help you get through these tough times.
I know that these sad news stories are more commonplace than it seems. And I know that more will come, especially as we day-by-day approach the end of these times. But I have the hope in Jesus to help me see that this world is not all there is, and it certainly is not my home.
(Please note that, although this world is not our home and there is so much pain in it, God still has a reason for you to be here. If you are battling thoughts of suicide, please know that you are loved and that there is so much to live for, both here and in eternity. Pastors at your local churches are available to pray with you. Also, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is available at 1-800-273-8255. Whichever way you choose, just know that we all love you and never want to lose you. And God loves you and has given His life for you. That's how much you are worth to the God who made you!)