Tragedy struck Boston today. And it is very, very hard to understand why.
That is what is so terrifying. Whose heart did not cry out “Why?” when they thought of the unsuspecting mothers and friends and children of the victims? Who did not feel the simultaneous pangs of fear and guilt as they thought, “Please don’t let it be my mother, my friend, my child”? Who did not feel rage against whoever committed this apparently senseless act? And beneath all this, a colder, quieter fear: “What if this really was senseless? What if they died for nothing?”
We are desperate to believe the world is not pointlessly cruel, but the evidence is against us. When catastrophe strikes, there is no meaning in sight. The cold world spins on, careless of our pain. Beauty is destroyed, friends lost, hearts broken, not for any reason, but because these things “just happen.” This is the greatest tragedy of all, to have even our tragedy itself ripped away from us, to have our pain declared insignificant and trivial.
But we are reluctant to believe that life is pointless, and that should tell us something. A fish does not feel wet in the water – he feels dry on land. We find nothing odd about our natural environment, for we are designed for it. Yet, on days like this, when the world feels pointless, I feel like that fish out of water. Isn’t that surprising? If there was never meaning, why are we so shocked every time we feel it is taken away from us?
So we ask again: was there ever a tragedy that had any meaning at all? And the answer is the same: No. Never.
Christ came into a meaningless world, and spoke meaning into it. He entered a land of pain and brought healing, invaded a realm of despair and brought hope. And then He was stuck on a tree until He died, just one more beautiful thing destroyed. Not the ending we were hoping for, one might think.
But Christ went through that so that every tragedy might have significance. When Christ’s great calamity was reversed, so was calamity in general. It is no longer a sign of the pointless world we live in, but a reminder of the meaning we have in Him, of the fact that there is somewhere we are going, a better Kingdom we are bringing, and we are not there yet.
Outside of Christ’s sacrifice, there would be no significance in today or any day. We would be souls without hope of salvation and men without purpose to motivate us.
But because of His Crucifixion, we can see today as the tragedy it truly was: two men, made in the likeness of God Himself, were killed by another, in a microcosm of the Fallen nature of this world. And by His Resurrection, we can see in today the hope we so desperately long for: that we have been promised a new Heaven and a new Earth if we do Christ’s work to bring them about, that we have been given a Kingdom of Heaven with which to replace this fallen realm.
Christ’s Good News is that pain and suffering are no longer meaningless, but are instead opportunities for Him to be shown to a world that desperately needs Him. He is the source of our hope that we might someday conquer this tragic world and make it perfect as He is perfect. So as we help to rebuild our city, let this be our one guiding goal: to show Meaning to those who need it – Him – in their lives, at this time most of all. There is no greater gift we can offer out of our weakness than this.
O Lord, You reign supreme, and we pray that through this Your will might be done. We ask that You might aid the suffering and bring justice to the wicked; that You might bring joy where there is despair; that You might enable us to be more perfectly Your hands and feet as You carry out this work. Above all, O Lord, we pray that through this some might know You and Your peace. Come to our city, O Lord; Amen.