We really want to. We want to fix everything. We even sometimes wonder why God isn’t fixing it.
Ministers molesting children. Men and women breaking up their homes through adultery, violence, abandonment, hatred, reviling. Drunkards in the pulpits. Injustice everywhere.
Sometimes it is overwhelming. And sometimes I hurt all over hearing the stories – YOUR stories. I hear you and my heart grieves. And I can’t fix it.
I can’t talk your abusive minister and elders into removing your excommunication for divorcing your criminally abusive husband. I can’t convince your grown children to become Christians. I can’t take away injustice. I can’t humble a proud man or convince a hater to put on love.
I would love to fix things, but then I remember that I am dust.
Stalin just tried to fix things. Marx just tried to fix things. Hitler tried to fix things. Pol Pot, Mao, Kim jong Il…
The world is littered with the corpses of the powerful men who tried to fix things.
The problem is sin. And the older I get the more I understand how powerful, complicated, tangled, horrible, fracturing and evil sin is.
The spot of paint inside the painting can’t see the painting. How can I even see what the problem is? How can I fix anything when I can’t even fully understand the tangled web of my own heart? I am simply a small fragment of the whole tapestry that only the Great Artist can see. I can’t see the creation from the perspective of the creator, for I am not the creator.
But here is what I know: Jesus hates injustice far more than we do. Jesus hates violence and murder far more than we do. Jesus hates adultery, cruelty and reviling far more than we can possibly imagine.
So why does it seem as if he is doing nothing about it?
He did do something about it.
4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. (Isa. 53:4-5 KJV)
All of the violence, hatred, grief, sorrow, murder, hatred and reviling came upon him. He became sin for us.
The fact is this: If he cleansed the earth of all wickedness, there would be no one left. That includes you and me. The wrath of God against sin doesn’t excuse me, because it doesn’t play favorites. When I cry out for justice, I also cry out for mercy, for without mercy I cannot stand a moment. God sees the heart. And that means that I am in trouble.
So before Jesus purges the earth of wickedness, he redeems a people for himself. For God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son.
Those nails were meant for me. That crown of thorns belonged to me. The abandonment and shame were mine.
And all of the injustice and hatred and cruelty that is in the world he bore in his body on the cross. He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.
But now that he has died and risen again, now that he has provided salvation, why doesn’t he come in judgment? Why is he allowing such evil cruelty to exist in his church?
Jesus does not delight in the death of the wicked. He is giving every opportunity for the wicked to repent. He does not follow the timetable of men, for he sees far more than we do. When he finally comes in judgment, it will not be the bloodbath of the kings of the earth, it will be no holocaust, no great purge of Mao or Stalin.
He will judge the earth in goodness and righteousness and equity. He will be merciful to those who confess his name, and he will come in judgment for all the cruel, the murderers, the liars, the hypocrites, the adulterers, the revilers – no matter what outer form they take. He knows the difference between the sheep and the goats.
The one who took our sorrows will also vindicate his own. He will come to pour out his wrath against sin.
And there is comfort in that. He will wipe away every tear.
In the meantime, I will do what I can do as a creature of dust. I will seek to find the right words to comfort and rebuke as necessary. I can listen. And above all I can point to the One who died for me and invite you to meet him, the lion who is a lamb. I can only do that with the Bible. I don’t have answers on my own. I don’t have the solutions on my own.
All I have is the word of God, the record of the apostles and prophets. But that is enough – sufficient to equip us for all that we need. It points us to Christ, who died for us and rose again the third day – according to the scriptures.
Hold to that. When all around my soul gives way, he then is all my hope and stay.
5 responses to “We can’t fix it”
Your Reading/listening and acknowledgement has been a balm to my soul. You have done more over the internet than many close people in my life. Thank you,
Thank you so much for the encouragement!
Pastor Sam Powell, thank you seems inadequate, once again your words bring light and hope. I echo what bunkababy says; the healing and support I receive through your words here and your sermons online is immeasurably more than i receive from people around me. I’m literally carried by these messages of hope at times when i feel like i just can’t go on. May God continually bless you and your family.
Thank you for this, Pastor. It was a great encouragement, although (through no fault of yours) it was also full of difficult truths.
I’ve noticed that faith is often treated more as “miracle pill” that promises to undo all the trials of life. If you ingest it, all your problems will go away. It will fix everything. It is a cure-all for whatever ails you, or ails those around you.
Pastors are often put in the very unfair position of having all the answers to the troubles they face, or are brought tot hem. Or, at least, they will always know what to say to make everything better. Or, they will come up with a game plan that will fix your life—read this book, see this counselor, go to this conference, attend these classes, or do this homework.
This is more along the lines of a politician, not a pastor, IMO. People get elected to office based on making promises—-some of them doable, some of them quite grandiose, but all aimed at one thing: I can fix everything.
This upsets me because we tend to either demonize or idolize those in power (and this includes pastors). They’re heroes when they succeed. They are cowards when they fall short.
They are put on pedestals, and if they are exposed to be anything less than perfect (which is inevitable), or they dare to suggest that they can’t fix everything (or anything)—-our reactions tend to be far from gracious.
My question tends to be more introspective than accusatory: why did you put them on pedestals in the first place?
Believe me, thinking or even trying to “fix” things can be as insulting as you can imagine. For example, if you’ve lost a child, what kind of person would suggest you deal with it by having another one right away, or adopting a child in order to fill that void as quickly as possible? Then your grief issue is fixed!
“We even sometimes wonder why God isn’t fixing it”
I suggest that we wonder that ALL the time, not sometimes! Of all the players in the world, THAT is the One who should be able to fix what is broken. And there is plenty of work to be done.
I think you picked the perfect verse to illustrate things: He can’t necessarily stop the tears, but He can wipe them away, and keep them in a bottle. They matter to Him that much.
I also think you picked up on what is hard to focus on: while there may (or may not) be justice in this life, we are guaranteed justice in the next. It doesn’t “fix” everything, but it does loosen a nail or two.
Sometimes the ones who are suffering the most, who need Him the most—-are the most hostile towards Him. They cannot cope with how they have suffered, with the fact that God allowed that suffering, with the fact that He is the true solution to all that suffering
I can understand that. All of this suffering makes little to no sense. It’s nonsensical, but it’s not nonsense. I keep hoping that someday it will all make sense, or at least become less confusing :-).