Practice finished, and I was starving. I rushed to Mission Dining Hall to fill my plate with the food that had been so highly recommended earlier in the evening. When I got there, I piled the food onto my plate. As I sat down, my eyes scanned the dimly lit room. Everyone had their eyes fixed on one thing: the TV. Curious to see what was piquing everyone’s interest, I turned and read the headline: “14 dead, 17 injured in shooting in San Bernardino, Calif.”
Again? I thought. Another shooting, another tragedy. As I looked back around the room, I saw the shaking of heads. Even through the loud and upbeat music in the background – designed to add a dimension of liveliness to the themed dining hall meal – a sobering aura pervaded the room. My mind was racing with other recent atrocities. Not more than one month ago, the Paris attacks had left at least 129 dead, with at least 352 injured. Racial injustices have occurred on the campuses of University of Missouri and Yale. A week ago, two civilians and a police officer were shot and killed in Colorado Springs in a Planned Parenthood clinic. The strife of refugees running from the Syrian civil war is still garnering national attention.
These waves of tragedy and heartbreak seem to surround us, drowning us with wave after wave of terror, unresolved conflict and repeated injustice. From what I have seen on campus, they have also generated a sense of outrage, as well as a feeling of hopelessness – what can we do in the face of such atrocities and corruption? Especially when it seems so far out of our control?
Personally, I consider myself blessed to have a concrete hope in such a volatile world. As a Christian, I find my hope through my faith in Jesus. It does not depend on any person in this world, any feeling I may have or any circumstance in which I may find myself or the world – simply because God is in control of all those things, my hope lies in him.
With this in mind, I think people on campus believe that, when tragedy strikes, the Christian community can appear to be apathetic: Either we don’t seem to care, or we don’t voice an opinion. This is, however, often because these tragedies do not hold sway over the hope we have in Christ. It does not mean that we are indifferent to the world. My heart breaks when I see the tragedies that permeate our lives. I believe that these evils are not how God intended the world to be. Rather, “[i]n the beginning God created the heavens and the Earth” (Genesis 1:1), and, furthermore, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). The waves of violence and conflict are evidence that the world around us is not the way that God intended it to be; to simplify, we live in a “fallen” and “broken” world.
In the face of this brokenness, we, as Christians, have hope. Through faith in Jesus, we are rescued, even in the tragedies surrounding us: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:16-17). It is in light of this salvation that we live, and we can, as a result, trust that God will even use the brokenness for good.
It is with the hope and joy that comes with this salvation that I, personally, and as a leader of Ephs for Christ – a Bible study for student athletes – get to respond to the tragedies of this world. God calls me to act in love (Luke 10:27) and, especially in the face of such tragedy, to seek justice and love mercy (Micah 6:8). I have found hope in God’s love, hope that he can – and does – save us from the fallen world in which we live.
I certainly share in the pain and sting of the affliction, which I was abruptly reminded of on that solemn evening in Mission Dining Hall. It is in that very pain, though, that I find true joy in being able to share my source of hope, a hope that overcomes all of the pain and sorrow of this world.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
Luke Thoreson ’16 is a history major from Post Falls, Idaho. He lives in Milham.