One thing after another. That’s the way it’s felt this past month, as acts of terrorism and violence have escalated and followed on one another’s heels. I find myself waking up each day wondering what the headlines will say, wondering what happened while I was sleeping or moving about daily life…
Violence is starting to feel normal and, though no believer should be surprised at evil’s presence, we are becoming freshly sensitive to its increasing prevalence. If I’m honest, I’m afraid, baffled, ashamed, and sad all at once.
Certain headlines and official statements haven’t helped. News headlines like “Who can heal America?” and remarks from our President read, “Only we can prove that we have the grace and character and the common humanity to end this kind of senseless violence.”
The worldview behind such thinking is even more saddening because we cannot be the solution when we are actually the problem.
I read Isaiah 30 this morning and was helped and humbled by God’s living and abiding Word to his people:
Therefore thus says the Holy One of Israel,
“Because you despise this word
and trust in oppression and perverseness
and rely on them,
therefore this iniquity shall be to you
like a breach in a high wall, bulging out, and about to collapse,
whose breaking comes suddenly, in an instant;
and its breaking is like that of a potter’s vessel
that is smashed so ruthlessly
that among its fragments not a shard is found
with which to take fire from the hearth,
or to dip up water out of the cistern.”
For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel,
“In returning and rest you shall be saved;
in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” (vv. 12-15)
As a nation, we can’t heal ourselves. This is because our nation is made up of individual people who can’t heal themselves, but who need the healing only Christ can give. We have rebelled as a people, yes, but God’s Word would remind us that our rebellion starts within each person, within the individual’s heart.
Sin is our biggest problem, manifesting itself in oppression and perverseness and idolatry. Isaiah 30 reminds us that sin can only lead to destruction, a “breaking” that “comes suddenly, in an instant.” We see this breaking happening before our eyes. Chaos and disorder, destruction and turmoil. And we will see this breaking in a final sense when Christ returns in perfect, righteous justice.
But this breaking first started in you and in me. Sin is a power that breaks and destroys, therefore it is a power that needs breaking. We cannot do this ourselves. Our attempts to heal our greatest problem are useless, like trying to dip up water out of the cistern with mere shards of fragmented pottery.
The nation that tries to heal itself can only destroy itself. But God’s Word in Isaiah tells us that healing is possible when individuals repent and rest in the Lord Christ. We find in him the salvation that breaks sin’s power over us, and we find the rest and peace and strength to both persevere amid evil and to hold out to others the only way to be truly healed.
This side of heaven, we won’t see perfect peace in our world, but we are seeing rebel sinners turned to the perfect peace of our Lord God every day.
We should repent, ourselves. His yoke is easy and his burden is light, and in Jesus we find rest for our souls. We should let his Word search our hearts for the lingering presence of sin, all the while praising him that sin’s grip on us has been broken with the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ.
We should pray. We should view the events of our world with an understanding of indwelling sin and the gospel’s promise that it can and will be broken in individual hearts, with the rule and reign of Jesus Christ established, and eventually, once for all time.
We should tell others and speak his Word. As we continue to draw life from the Lord of life, may we hold out his undeserved grace and sin-destroying power to those around us as the only way to be truly healed.