the sky is rising


Over the past few days, the world endured some devastating tragedies in Lebanon, Iraq and France. As I read the headlines, my heart ached for the suffering that the victims and their friends and family endured this weekend.  And for the grief that all of us in our global community feel each time another headline breaks.  It's discouraging.  Disheartening.  Maddening.

Today, on this Monday morning, we wake up to the aftermath and wonder, What are we going to do?

I woke up asking myself that question early this morning, before my alarm went off.  God, what are we going to do?

I thought of Romans 8, "All creation groans as in the pangs of childbirth...."  Yes.  Not only all of creation, but on this Monday morning, we ourselves groan in pain and frustration and grief.

What are we to do? 

This summer I overheard a grandfather talking to his teenage grandson.  After telling his grandson everything that was wrong with America, the Millennial generation, President Obama and the world, the grandfather shook his head.  "Be afraid," he said to his grandson.  "Be very afraid."

And maybe that is the natural reaction.  The more we see going wrong in the world -- and the more that goes wrong in our personal lives -- the more we reach for despair, fear, anger and hopelessness.

But, on this Monday morning, is that what our response is supposed to be?  Are we supposed to run around like Chicken Little declaring, "The sky is falling! The sky is falling!"

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If the Romans 8 metaphor is accurate, and the world is groaning as in the pangs of childbirth, what is our response to a woman in labor whose contractions are growing stronger?

Do the doctors and nurses run around, head in hands, yelling, "Oh no!  Oh no!  The pain is getting worse?  Oh, Lord help us."

Do they go to the woman in labor and tell her, "Be afraid.  Be very afraid."

No -- that would be ridiculous, not to mention counterproductive.  Because the worse the pain gets, the closer we are to new life.

This world is no different.  Instead of running around creating more despair and fear and defeat, what if we lived up to our calling to be people of hope and encouragement, who help new life break through in difficult, dark places?

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In Romans 8, God goes on to promise that he'll work everything out for good.  God promises to redeem the world in all its brokenness, to resurrect everyone and everything we have lost.  And, until that happens on a global scale, God calls us to be a part of making that happen here and now.

There's a reason why Jesus taught his disciples to pray, "On earth as it is in heaven."  Not, "protect me until I get to heaven," but "use me to bring heaven to earth."

On this Monday morning, there's a lot of bad news.  A lot of pain.  A lot of hard decisions to be made.

But please, especially if you claim to be a follower of Jesus, don't be Chicken Little declaring that the sky is falling down.

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Be a true follower of Jesus who prays as Jesus did, "On earth as it is in heaven" or, as I wrote about a few weeks ago, "In me as it is in heaven." 

On this Monday, the Monday after unspeakable tragedies, look up.  See the bigger picture.  Yes, the world is groaning more today than it was before, but that means that we are that much closer to new life.

On this Monday, what can you do?

Be a person who declares that the sky is rising.

Be a person who not only talks about, but lives out, the ideals of love, peace, joy, patience, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

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On this Monday, pray for the countries that have been affected by violence.  Then, get up off your knees and do something about it.  You probably can't travel to Iraq or France or Lebanon today, but you can show up in your own life today, in the situations and people you encounter, and choose In me as it is in heaven.

You can be a person who practices radical forgiveness, peace, love and hope.  You can choose not to be violent and angry with your words, but instead to speak gently and kindly.  You can choose not to act selfishly, but to be selfless instead.  You can do something kind for a person you perceive as your enemy.  You can do something generous for a stranger.

On this Monday after the tragedies around the world, be a person who declares that, in fact, The Sky is Rising! Then do your part to lift it up.

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