My baby boy is cutting teeth. (Wait. Stop. Don't bail on me now. It gets better, I promise.)
He is snotty and angry. He is aching and swollen. He rubs his face with his little baby fists and tries to scrape the pain away with his fingers. He wakes up in the night, howling in confused rage.
He doesn't understand his pain. Where is it coming from? Why? What can he do about it?
We are just like this little one in the world.
The past few weeks I have been angry and confused, hurting and bruised, waking in the night with a heart aching, and swatting around desperately at the pain in the world that I don't understand and don't know how to fix.
I see the violence and it disturbs me. Part of me longs to respond with a violence of my own. Part of me longs to become a radical pacifist taking every stand against violence like some kind of Buddhist Nun in jeans. I'm just punching at the air. I'm swatting at the ache with hands too powerless to take it all away.
I yearn to see a more beautiful version of our human experienced lived out. I would hazard a strong statement here: We all do. Pacifists and terrorists. Activists and seclusionists. Presidents and preschoolers. Mommies and militaries. No matter who we are. No matter how big or small.
And we all have theories about how to make the more beautiful human experience happen. Humans have good intentions. We are yearners and fixers. We want to see the More Excellent Earth that lives in our minds. Where pain stops. Where harmony makes us beautiful with one another. We'll even kill for it. Because the pain of the broken life is more than we can bear.
That's why terrorists shoot.
That's why monks pray.
That's why wars are waged.
That's why quilts are stitched by quiet fingers at home.
Because we want a more beautiful world. It lives in our minds and we believe we can bring it out from the shadows by our actions. The problem is, none of us can agree on what The Beautiful World looks like or how to get there.
We are like my teething baby... we are aching and we don't understand the source.
We are doing everything we can to stop it.
We are all coming up short.
And sometimes we just want to give up, go numb, close our eyes, stop our hearts.
Advent is a season that exhorts us toward hope. It calls out to us with a loud voice: "The world you yearn for is NOT FICTION." It tells us about a future where, "Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill brought low; the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough ways smooth" (Luke 3:5). Where the tumultuous and jagged imperfections of our world are eased into harmony.
Two things for you....
#1 Don't give up hope. Don't abandon your vision of the More Beautiful World. Hope. Hope hard. Hope long. Hope however you can hope and do not stop hoping. Help is coming.
#2 Rest. Don't fret. When you yearn to see a More Beautiful World, acknowledge that it is the space inside you that compasses you toward God's good heart. He yearns for the same thing. He yearns more desperately and more constantly than you. The space in you that comes up with solutions to take away the pain (for yourself, for your family, for your city, for your nation, for the world) is the heart of God who desires nothing more than a healed and beautiful world. It is only by his mercy and love that he waits another day to make The More Beautiful World true.
When you long to hate the evil people who kill, pray for them that their eyes will be opened to the answers they seek. That in their desperate quest to bring about the More Beautiful World, they would find the Most Beautiful Way.
We are like teething babies. We swat desperately at pain we don't understand. But hope and rest, friends, because we have been promised the answer we seek. The solution to our longing. The blue-print for the Better. It's not an empty dream. It's a master plan. Jesus gave everything (his divinity, his dignity, his life) to make it a feasible reality.
If you don't understand that yet... date Jesus and see. Peek at his game plan and test the waters. You don't have to buy in before you've checked out the goods. Look in and see who he is... He is a life giver, a mission enabler, a dream inspirer, a world restorer, an identity empowerer, a hope satisfier. His way toward The More Beautiful World is beautiful.
You don't have to bat blindly at pain any more. There is light shining in the darkness, showing the way through. Showing the way to mend what is broken. When you are fretful and aching in agony, longing to escape the pain, snotty and unhappy like the baby cutting teeth... reach out and take hold of Hopeful Rest. Assured. Calm. The More Beautiful World is coming.