The importance of hope

boston

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” – Rom. 15:13

These past couple of weeks, I have been experiencing anger. Lots and lots of anger. Specifically, I’ve been really angry at hearing how so many women have been raped or sexually assaulted. It’s hard not to hear about the horrific incident in India of how a woman was violated against her will in such a brutal fashion. Or hearing about how a 5 year old girl is now in the hospital because of some man’s heinous acts committed against her. Even within my own social circle, I have heard stories of how men have committed grievous acts against their will. My heart is not only angry, it also grieves for them. I grieve for them because I don’t ever want them to feel like they’re dirty, or that they’re now just “unwanted goods”. I don’t ever want them to feel like they’re unworthy of love or thinking that they somehow deserved it because no one EVER deserves to be treated in that way! The “if only” thoughts go into overdrive and leaves nothing but guilt and shame in its wake. I wish I could do something to make them feel better. To make the pain go away. But I am yet again reminded of the limits of my own humanity.

Last week, that feeling of hopelessness about the evils of our world was exacerbated by the Boston Marathon bombings. Lives lost. Lives forever changed in an instant. A brief moment of light and sound whose effects will reverberate for a lifetime. People running; the next moment, they are lying down on the hospital bed about to have their legs amputated. A man about to propose to the woman of her dreams at the finish line is left crumpled on the floor, willing her to life as she lies on the ground. There are no words that can capture the sense of loss and the overwhelming anger that rises after such a horrific event.

I’m glad that the God of Christianity is a God who knows what it feels like to have a son die. I’m glad that the God of Christianity is a God who knows what it’s like to be cheated or to be lied to. I’m glad that the God of Christianity is a God who can identify with victims of injustice. I’m glad because I know He understands what I’m going through. At the very least, I can never throw “You don’t understand” in His face. Because He does. He really does. And as I read the Scriptures, I am consoled by the fact that even amidst the most tragic events that we can ever experience, there is always Hope. There is hope that things can get better. There is hope that restoration is not just a far-off dream, but that it could also be a reality in our own life time. There is hope that this, too, shall pass. It may take awhile before we see the silver lining. It may take awhile before we can see its glimmer that shines ever so brightly, but so fleetingly, we wonder if we even saw it in the first place. There is hope that beauty can come from ashes. There is hope that broken things can be made whole once more. There is hope that no matter what depths of despair we may experience, joy will find us once again. There is always Hope.

The importance of mystery

More and more, I’m convinced of the need to see the world afresh and anew. We are a society that has accumulated millions and billions of data about everything. And somehow, this strange phenomenon has not caused us to wonder about the world but instead has done the exact opposite. We now think that we know this world we live in. Back in the good old days, people didn’t know about the sun, so they wanted to know more about it. They didn’t know about the stars, so they wanted to learn more about it. They didn’t know about this, that, and the other… and in their curiousity, tried to understand the very thing that got them intrigued. I sometimes think we have lost this vivacious curiousity, this desire to ask “why” and “how” when it comes to the things around us or the ideas that are all around us. I mean, why bother, isn’t that what Google and Wikipedia are for?

But it is this craving to ask the questions that others aren’t asking that makes us humble in our understanding. It is in the very not-knowing that we can know things. It’s hard not to come at a situation with pre-conceived notions of how it works, or what it is. And sometimes, it is this very arrogance of know-it-all attitude that closes us to further experiencing this world that God has given us.

There’s an anime show I watched called “Full Metal Alchemist.” The show was about two brothers who lost their mom and wanted to bring her back through alchemy. Of course, this was also forbidden. According to alchemy, every action has a reaction. To create matter, you must first have the ingredients needed to create the very thing you want. The theory is, if all the raw materials are there, they can then resurrect her. They try to do it and of course it fails. The question that hounds them is why? Why is it that even though they had ALL the raw ingredients to make up a person, they could not create a person? Shouldn’t this cause us to wonder at how “fearfully and wonderfully made” we all are?

It is only when we look at the world with wonder that we can experience its beauty. Nature yields its secrets only to those who actually seek to know its secrets. In religious settings, it is the mystic who, in his or her desire to know God, finds God. Doesn’t the Bible itself affirm this when it says “seek and you shall find”? My challenge to you is to go out of the door tomorrow and notice the birds in the air, the trees, the little squirrel scurrying away, the flowers, the grass, the bus, the cars, the elevator, the door, the air… and realize how wonderful all of it really is.

and scene…