As a general rule, I don’t watch the news. I know this seems to go against my Barthian theology of preaching that has “a Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other,” but honestly, who subscribes to newspapers anymore? Of course, the reality is that this isn’t to say that I don’t know what is going on in the world. I talk to people, I listen to the radio, I’m on Facebook and Twitter, and I know how to access the CNN.com homepage; I’m aware of current events enough to suggest that I preach with “a Bible in one hand and my smartphone/laptop/iPad in the other.” I’m also aware of current events enough to know that life is full of pain. A brief glance at this week’s top stories brings nearly two weeks of waiting to know what became of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370; the domestic violence/murder trial of a man who was for two week’s the world’s sweetheart, Oscar Pistorius; the ongoing violent struggle between Russia, the Ukraine, and Crimea; and the Rolling Stones’ Tour cancellation as their lead singer mourns the suicide death of his girlfriend; just to name a few.
The reality of life is that it comes with pain, which, to me, is why faith is so important. If there is no point to all of this other than to be born, experience life, and die, then the pain doesn’t seem worth it, but if there is a God, whose Kingdom is perfect freedom, then the pain is, at the very least, a motivator toward making this world a better place: a world that more closely resembles the Kingdom.
Which is why, as I say all too often, I love this week’s Collect. We can’t fix the problems of the world. Laws won’t keep bad people from doing bad things. Medical advances can’t keep new ailments from springing forth. Even good intentions can’t keep us for accidentally hurting the feelings of those we love. Pain is inevitable, but God is there to remind us that even in the midst of our pain and sadness, we are his beloved children.
Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.