Human history is messy. So messy, in fact, that it's a natural struggle to see an intelligent Designer behind all this. If God is perfect in every way, and is actively working in the world, wouldn't we expect things to be a lot less dysfunctional? For example, the grass in my front yard is dried up and dying from overexposure to extreme Texas heat. Don't get me wrong. As long as it's dying, i don't have to mow it. But still, isn't that messed up? Of course, that's a little thing in our world.
What about tragedy? Genuine heart-breaking tragedy. What is it, anyway? It's when we know something isn't going the way it's supposed to. We instinctively know that the Creator behind the world we live in designed everything for good.
But what happens when someone you care about hears someone say something really hurtful to them? We know something's wrong with that. That isn't supposed to happen. Yet it does. Or someone you love dearly suffers a medical condition. Something inside their body isn't working right. You just know things aren't going according to plan. God, who creates things perfect and good, could not intend for that to be. Yet it happens. And it's heart-breaking.
Think about tragedy from God's perspective. He looks at you, someone he created with the greatest of intention and hopes and dreams, and all your life is meant to enjoy him and find your greatest joy and satisfaction in him. But what if you try to find enjoyment somewhere else? What if you think the welcome of other people, people incapable of loving you the way God does, is more satisfying, and you turn away from God? You want nothing to do with him. You're wrong, of course. A desperate longing that only he can satisfy will leave you perpetually restless.
Hell is a tragedy because it is human beings violently, intentionally, and permanently tearing themselves from the One for whom they were created, the One who pursues them relentlessly, the One who will satisfy the desperate longing inside of them.
Tragedy surrounds us. It breaks us. Like C.S. Lewis said, pain is "God's megaphone to rouse a deaf world." Tragedy, when we really listen to the story it's telling us, reminds us that we are in desperate need of rescue by someone who can restore everything. Imagine a world where the grass doesn't die because the sun is too hot. A world without medical conditions, harsh words, or death.
The feeling we get when tragedy strikes tells us something is wrong. Something isn't going according to plan or lining up with the design. Tragedy tells us that there is a design that's supposed to be adhered to, that everything messy isn't supposed to be messy.
We cling to Jesus in the midst of the messiness. He sees it, yet he's chosen to take a messy path to clean up the mess. Someday, the mess will be gone, and only God's re-creation will remain.
What tragedies in your own life do you want to see undone?
Photo Credit: Brian Sinasac on Flickr