Current Events

The past few days have made me sad. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, comment threads on news articles, conversations outside Starbucks...everywhere I look, everywhere I am, I hear anger. Hatred. Even rage. At the same time, I hear hurt. Pain. Sadness. In the wake of the recent Supreme Court decision regarding homosexual marriage, it's all over the place. I know you've seen it too. I'm not assigning a certain behavior, action, attitude or feeling to one "side" or another. I see it all on both "sides" of the issue. This past week, I've heard one phrase more than almost any other. I've seen Christians, even well-intentioned, compassionate, grace-giving Christ-followers, use this phrase:

"Love the sinner, hate the sin."

But is it working?

This is not a post about ISIS. I know the title would suggest differently, but this post isn't about ISIS and it's not about politics. See, I've been reading a lot about ISIS, and often when I read an article online I check out some of the reader comments below. I've read so many comments full of hatred and anger. The sad part is that so much of it isn't even directed toward ISIS, but toward other readers, but hey, that's for another blog post. A week or two ago, I read an article about the 21 Christians that were beheaded on the beach and one of the comments, apparently written by a believer, struck a chord:

"I just keep telling myself that this must be part of God's plan."

Since then I feel like I've read or heard that same thought echoed by a lot of other people. Maybe I'm just noticing it more now that I saw it once. But I've been thinking about that. When bad things, terrible things, the absolute worst kinds of unthinkable things happen to good people, is it part of God's plan?

I first wrote this blog post in April 2013 in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing. I had a conversation with a friend today that prompted me to share this again. 
As I write this, images, stories and news bulletins continue to emerge in the wake of the unthinkable tragedy at the Boston Marathon yesterday. Last night I was looking through some pictures online and I was literally speechless. My stomach hurt. I couldn't stand to see any more. I was filled with an incredible sense of anger at the injustice in all of this. I felt helpless to do anything about it, which only amplified the anger I felt. There's really no other word to describe the feeling. It only got worse when I read about 8-year-old Martin Richard, who lost his life in the attack. An innocent child, enjoying the race and cheering on the runners with his family. Only the most evil of people could take the life of a child in this way. I am so angry as I write this that I can barely type. I can't wrap my mind around what motivates this kind of horrible action. Someone asked me this morning if it's wrong for Christians to be angry. He had been told growing up that anyone who is truly a follower of Jesus doesn't get angry, and he wanted to know if the fact that he was feeling what I had been feeling about all of this meant that he had done something wrong, or that his faith was weaker than he thought. You might be wondering the same thing. Is it ok for Christians to be angry?

In case you missed this, here's a video that was released by the three women who had been held captive in Cleveland for almost 10 years. Watch this, especially starting at the 1:55 mark: I heard this clip on the radio on my way to Canton this morning. At the time, I was frustrated because I was following a semi going well under the speed limit, and I knew I had a lot to do this morning and not a lot of time to do it, so I was getting angry about running behind.

I was listening to the radio on my way to an appointment this morning and I heard something that was very thought provoking. I'm a talk radio junkie, and I was listening to a talk show host talk about Independence Day and freedom. He said,

Acting in freedom means nothing. If you don't think like you're free, you aren't free.

I never thought about it that way. It reminded me an experiment that we did when I was in kindergarten that has somehow stuck with me all these years.