Last weekend a member of our church was driving here in Dar and was struck in the face with a bullet from what they suspect was an armed robbery taking place near where he was driving. He, his wife and newborn child flew to South Africa to try and save his eye. They were unsuccessful.
Also last weekend, the brother of a woman at our church was shot in Johannesburg, South Africa, so she flew there to be with him.
Yesterday, a friend and life-group member with us excitedly shared the picture of her newborn niece and we all celebrated with her over WhatsApp. By morning, the baby had died and even as I type, they are at the baby's burial.
Garissa. 148 people dead in our neighboring country Kenya and heightened security around Tanzania since due to rumors of threats.
So much pain. So many unanswered questions. So much tragedy and heartbreak. So much brokenness. So much loss. The stories are endless near and around me- I'm sure the same is true in your life and in your context as well. No matter where we live, we cannot escape this brokenness.
I wonder...how does one cope without Jesus?
How do you cope if you only know death, abuse, injustice, disease, loss...the Good Friday story.
How do you hold onto hope when you don't know about Easter - Resurrection Day...Or if you know, but reject it? What do you hold onto? What do you hope in?
Perhaps people's hope is in humanity and the idea that deep down people are good? Perhaps hope is in a god-like figure, some spiritual being, some idea that there is something 'bigger than us out there'? Perhaps hope is in oneself - trusting that you can, in the end, work it all out in your own strength? Perhaps hope is in science, or money, or education, or relationships, or chariots, or horses...
"Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God."
Putting our hope in anything but Christ is futile. And seeing the brokenness and pain around me only increases the urgency I feel in sharing that hope with others.
Yesterday's sermon was about Evangelism. During worship, after we sang "Mighty To Save", I invited people into a time of prayer for those who don't know Jesus. A few people came to my mind and I prayed for them. During the sermon, however, someone new came to my mind. And I wrestled with God. I was literally telling God it was too complicated and overwhelming - this person was too 'messy'. I felt hopeless. I felt like this persons brokenness is so deep that the gospel just might not be enough. I know in my head the power of the gospel, the love of the Father, the forgiveness of the Son, the transforming work of the Spirit...but my prayers do not reflect that for this individual.
Who has God placed in your life to pray for? To share the gospel with? Is there someone who you, like me, consider to be too 'messy'? Let's repent of our lack of faith and earnestly pray for the salvation of those God has put in our path. Let's pray for boldness in sharing the gospel message. Let's pray for the unconditional love of the Father to pour out from us to others and for us to cling to the hope of Christ!