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Ogle: Brokenness won’t have the last word

In my former column for the Winchester Sun, I wrote about the “signs” all around us that are meant to point us toward God. Creation, the Bible, even Jesus himself have been given to direct us to the Divine.

Not everything, however, tells a good story. What about all of the brokenness? What are we to make of suffering and pain? Every year, around the globe, there are catastrophic natural disasters that claim lives and destroy property. Almost everyone knows someone diagnosed with cancer. Young couples try repeatedly to have children but wind up experiencing the excruciating loss of yet another miscarriage. Trucks cross center lanes and erase whole families in the blink of an eye. People suffer from Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, and Parkinson’s disease. Each day, news cycles spew reports of murder, violence, kidnapping, sex trafficking, and rape.

If the world was created by a good and loving God, why does so much of it seem fractured?

The answer is actually a simple one: sin. Every bit of the brokenness and every single wrong thing experienced in this life can be traced back to mankind’s rebellion against their maker. Sometimes individual hardships are the direct result of personal sin. Whether a willful choice to break the law or to merely distrust God’s wisdom, consequences are often reaped. Other times, through no direct fault of our own, we simply feel the effects of the fall of man described in Genesis 3.

I realize that to this point my article is a rather gloomy one. Who wants to live in a broken world, let alone have someone remind them in writing? Here, however, is the platform for good news. In order for news to be good, it must invade the bad. Otherwise, it is neither good nor bad; it’s just news. In a world where news is more abundant than ever, humanity doesn’t need more. It needs news that’s truly good.

Here it is. The good news is that brokenness, as prevalent as it is, tells only half the story. The screen has not gone black just yet. The credits have not begun to roll.

It is true that Genesis 3 gives the account of human rebellion and divine retribution. It was at the point of Adam and Eve’s sin that the universe was shattered. Animals and people became fearful and distrusting of one another; women began experiencing painful childbirths; husbands and wives felt tension in their relationship; weeds and thorns started growing easier than crops; and returning to the dirt from which we came (dying) became the lot of us all. But it was also in Genesis 3 that God made one of the most significant promises ever. In verse 15, God told the serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

In those simple poetic words, God promised to one day send a man who would destroy the serpent and all his evil works. The man sent by God would suffer a significant wound in the process but would ultimately prevail. That man was none other than God’s own son Jesus. His prevailing work? Dying on the cross and being raised from the dead three days later.

If God has indeed destroyed the worker of iniquity, why do we witness the evidence of iniquity still present among us? Why is there not harmony and order?

God has made a couple of other promises. Revelation 20:2 reveals that the day will come when God will seize “…the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and [bind] him for a thousand years…” before finally sentencing him to eternal punishment. Then, finally, all suffering will end. God will “…will wipe away every tear…and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore….” (Revelation 21:4). Such an existence is hard to fathom. Understandably, many are skeptical, but since God kept his original promise, we have strong reason to believe he will also keep these.

Until then, the suffering and brokenness of this world, as difficult as it is, is actually a messenger of grace. For it is meant to lead us to salvation through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. When we grow weary of the world’s agony, it is then that we must remember, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (1 Peter 3:9)

Scott Ogle is the senior pastor at Central Baptist Church. He can be reached at scott@cbcwinchester.com.