How can our world be so evil?
I've asked myself this question repeatedly the past few weeks.
We've seen senseless violence with the kidnapping and murder of Liza Fletcher—an innocent wife, mother, and teacher. We've heard of the horrible "shooting spree" that took place in the same hurting community. We've remembered the day 21 years ago when terrorists attacked our country. We've even seen the death of Queen Elizabeth II (and yes, she lived a long and impactful life, but it feels like a reminder that tragically or naturally, our days will all come to an end).
While there are plenty of well wishes out there when the world is chaotic, sometimes, it just doesn't feel like enough. "It'll get better" or "we have the hope of heaven" can feel more like fuzzy Pinterest quotes that only give us hope for days ahead and not the days we are trudging through.
But you know what does apply to the present? Jesus.
Not merely the hope of King Jesus or the past example of Christian living as poster boy Jesus, but the fact that Emmanuel means "God with us." Jesus means that God is with us.
Jesus is with us even when it feels like our world is spinning out of control.
Jesus is with us when we feel like anxiety or fear will never leave us.
Jesus is with us when we feel lonely.
Jesus is with us when the temptation feels like too much to bear.
Jesus is with us when grief seems to outweigh our hope.
One of the most comforting things when you are struggling or confused is knowing that there is a friend who has already walked the same path you have—someone who understands and who knows the pain you are experiencing. This is the beauty of Jesus being with us.
Because He walked this earth too. Because He can relate to experiencing trials and tribulations. Because He knows firsthand of the evil in this world.
Jesus is with us when it feels like our world is spinning out of control because His world spun out of control, too (Matthew 27:46).
Jesus is with us when we feel like anxiety or fear will never leave us, because He knows the feelings of anxiety too (Mark 14:33).
Jesus is with us when we feel lonely (Isaiah 53:3) and tempted (Matthew 4:1) and grief-stricken (John 11:35) because He has been in those shoes (sandals?) too.
As Hebrews 4:15 says, "we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses."
The incarnation—Jesus coming to earth—means that God's Son can relate to our distress over the evil in this world. He sits with us in our grief and our stress and our confusion. He gets it. And while we can and should look ahead to the hope of the second coming when Jesus will return, we can find comfort now knowing that Jesus is with us.
The book of Matthew actually closes with this truth. We all hear of the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19–20: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." But the resurrected Jesus isn't just handing out commands and giving orders. Verse 20 concludes:
"And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."
Jesus was with those early followers when He walked this earth, and He will be with all believers when He returns, but in the meantime, Jesus is with us here and now. He is not distant or remote. He has not forgotten us. We are not "the left behind" just because we struggle. He is with us amidst it all.
As Tim Keller said, "The peace of God is not the absence of fear. It is, in fact, His presence."
Who knows if tomorrow will be better? Who knows when Jesus will return? Who knows when we will see Him face to face? But until those better days arrive, we can find strength for today because Jesus is with us.