A Message of Hope After a Week of Violence
The world is still in shock from the events of last week. As we try to make sense of several horrendous tragedies, what hope does our world need to hear?
Last week began with three dead at the Clackamas Town Center mall outside of Portland, Oregon, and ended with the news of two attacks on elementary school children on different sides of the globe—in Newtown, Connecticut, and in Chenpeng, China. In between were reports of children and elderly maimed and killed in conflicts in the civil war in Syria, in bomb blasts in Pakistan, and in the war for control of Afghanistan.
The final death toll of children in Connecticut now stands at the unimaginable number of 20 (plus eight dead adults) and 22 children were injured by knife wounds at a school in China.
After the Connecticut tragedy, President Obama addressed the nation. Occasionally pausing to control his own emotions, the president said: “They had their entire lives ahead of them—birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own. … Our hearts are broken today for the parents and grandparents, sisters and brothers of these little children.”
As people around the world are stunned by the deaths of all those who died in the violence of the second week of December, it is good to remember what President Obama said. These were not just numbers or names. These were human beings—many children—filled with potential (both physical and spiritual), who had lives ahead of them.
A message of hope
My post last week (“A Week of Mass Murder: Why So Much Violence in America?”) issued a warning to America about a growing culture of violence and challenged our readers to reject that culture in their lives. That warning is part of the truth element of our message.
But that is not the only message that Life, Hope & Truth delivers to this world when we see sin perpetrated on such a disastrous scale. There is also the element of hope. When tragedies occur, people don’t just need the message of warning. They also urgently need the message of hope.
And we do deliver a very specific and important message of hope.
Those 31 people who died at the hands of gunmen in the two mass shootings in America last week—and those who died in conflicts around the world—still have a future ahead of them. As President Obama pointed out, they won’t experience the milestones of life in this age. But there is another age coming that will give all of them the opportunity to live again and continue those precious lives and fulfill the potential they all had.
A new life in a new world
The hope of those who died was spoken of by Jesus Christ 2,000 years ago: “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth” (John 5:28-29, emphasis added). Christ said “do not marvel at this” for a reason. It is because the majority of humanity has not understood this incredibly amazing and important truth.
That incredible truth is that the dead are not lost to death forever or living on in some other place (heaven, hell or limbo). The dead are currently dead, in an unconscious state the Bible likens to “sleep” (1 Corinthians 15:51). But there is a future time when all those in the graves will “hear His voice” and awaken from the sleep of death and have the opportunity to live their lives and fulfill their potential (John 5:28; Daniel 12:2; Ezekiel 37:14).
They will then have the opportunity to live in a world where the violence of last week is merely a passing memory—a world we refer to as the Kingdom of God! Yes, a new world is coming. And that Kingdom is the hope of those 20 first graders who died in Connecticut.
That world will be a world made completely safe for children. No longer will children be at risk of the dangers of this age—school shootings, peer violence, bomb blasts, IEDs, civil conflicts, child predators or negative social influences.
That future world is described eloquently by the prophet Isaiah: “The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole, and the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain” (Isaiah 11:8-9).
Yes, dangerous animals of this age will be tamed in the coming age. But that isn’t the only truth we get about the Kingdom of God from this verse. The real point is that all the things that are dangers to the well-being of children now will be safe for children in the coming age! Animals and people who are violent now will be safe and docile in God’s Kingdom. Violence (hurting and destroying) will not be found in that future age.
So, as you pray for comfort for the families of victims of last week’s tragedies around the world, also pray for the Kingdom of God to come soon—the time when those precious children will stand on their feet again in a new world where violence will be a faded memory of the past.