When It Doesn’t Make Sense to Sing Peace on Earth or Goodwill Toward Men

I stand in this wreaking barn, with the manure splattered on the wall and the dust swirling in the air while the radio blares. They’re telling me that there’s been another shooter at a school in Connecticut. This guy has killed more than twenty people, mostly little kids. My gut groans. There’s something terribly the matter with the world.

Hours later, the sadness doesn’t lift. Just this heavy weight pressing in, for everything twisted and painfully broken. I look over at my kids and listen to their little cheerful voices as they help Grandpa feed the cows. What sort of world will they grow up in? Can’t I keep them safe? Their lives only knowing sweet things like newborn calves and kitties? Growing corn and wheat? Long walks down an old lane in the security of a family farm? I would spare them from all the trouble and pain. I really wish I could.

I go outside to breathe in cold air, crisp and clean. I look up above the hot wires to watch the sparrows roost and notice those papery nests–the work of wasps last summer.

Christmas is coming. Christmas is when we Christians celebrate how the Messiah came. The One who the angels shouted out through the sky, “Joy to the world! Peace on earth and goodwill toward men!” But, I know there’s not much peace on the earth. Not in a world that hangs like a pale blue dot, spinning through space, carrying people who hate each other with the cruelest sort of hate.

Seriously, my heart just aches. And I do believe it’s sin that’s marred this whole place and wrecked our hearts. We call it the Fall–the day that first Adam rebelled against God. Humanity fell and broke relationship with Love Himself. And all creation has been reeling ever since. We’re left with a filthy reflection of a once-good-and-perfect place. 

 
I talk to God about it because I believe He’s real and that He’s a God who is there and not far away. I tell Him my honest problems that I don’t like the way He let this place go. I can feel the sting of disappointment that the writer must have felt who penned the lines:

And in despair I bowed my head
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

If Jesus is the Messiah, what do I make of all the gut wrenching pain and suffering around me? I’m not trying to be disrespectful. I really want to see. I just want to know where God is at in a world gone mad.

I look up and see this one window bursting full of light. And I keep talking to my Maker, asking Him to please show up in all the evil and dark. Sometimes, my head knows things that my heart is slow to believe.

But, I remember again how He came. Just a little baby in the most humble way. How He entered our humanity on this pale blue dot to take on all our grief and ache. He makes no bones about it, that He was born for this. So that God could point His finger at His only righteous Son, and pour on Him all the wrath deserving blame. Blood ran down and the penalty for all our wrong-doing was paid. Jesus Himself absorbed man’s cruelest hate. And my life can testify that the soul who is forgiven, knows the sweetest Peace. Peace is a Person. And Peace on earth first comes to individual hearts.

 

Isn’t this the Gospel story? That the Peace child came? And for those whose hearts are like open doors to Him, He enters in and the most important relationship is restored. But, this is not the end. There’s so much more.

One day, His Kingdom light will burst through the window of our pale blue existence and all the kingdoms of the world will become the Kingdom of our God.

Then, then all wrongs will be made right. Pain and unjustice will finally cease. Death will die. Evil will be oppressed. 

This alone is why the Jesus worshipers sing. Because the world is full of dark and dust, for now. But, we’ve got hope. A Hope with skin that came. Forever light is dawning so we belt it out, though the world, it stings:
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.”

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