Ripple Effect

The mystery of this life’s suffering – and the way we open ourselves to God’s participation in it – often sharply defines our faith life. Over the years, I have been privileged to suffer alongside some truly amazing people, and to increase my faith in the process. A truth that often comes to light during these times is: “We must endure this because we live in a fallen world.” Never before this summer, though, have I so plainly LIVED the natural consequences of just one specific sin rippling outward to cause waves of suffering for other ‘innocent’ folks.

This summer, our church was violated: the building was broken into and robbed. Now, I don’t claim to be aware of the entire host of causes and effects, but the ones I can see have taught me a lot. First, I think I have learned more about the nature of sin itself. I can surmise that the person (assuming it was just one) who committed this crime against us probably has a very narrow view of the act. To the sinner, it must seem to be only personal. Something that was, yes, against the rules – but an individual decision, and therefore nobody else’s business. An act that could be rationalized away with a myriad of excuses or buried beneath the more fervid demands of a disordered desire that can’t easily be silenced. A choice that perhaps brought a thrill of adventure, and probably a substantial profit. Look back… and look in: this one sin’s nature mirrors the essence of every sin.

And we have suffered.

Because of this one choice, this one crime, this one break with righteousness, many people are still suffering. I don’t speak for each and every person on staff here, but I can tell you that, for some of us, our workplace has become more like a fort than a church. We often have to work twice as hard or twice as long to still be about our Father’s business. We must spend (oh-so-scarce) resources on things we never even wanted (new doors, new keys, new James Bond equipment). We are hounded by doubts, suspicions (ugh!), and even a lingering victims’ guilt. We are threatened by the base instinct to somehow seek revenge. We are variously tempted to thoughts of anger, bitterness, and despair. It’s ugly. But if we look back… and look in, we see that the consequences of the one specific crime mirror the repercussions of every offense.

The good news? Well, of course, it’s found in Scripture. In one of my favorite verses, Romans 8:28, St. Paul tells us: “We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” So, as we keep moving forward in faith, and turn any suffering over to God, we can watch Him turn it to his glory. Some way, someday. And while we’re waiting, we can look to another – the greatest – source of good news: the living and redemptive action of Christ on the cross. (Much has been written about that subject; for a simple reading, I recommend The Truth About Trouble by Michael Scanlan and Jim Manney. More advanced readers will appreciate the very profound Suffering of Love by Regis Martin.)

And, for more good news that we can actively seize and treasure today: it’s ‘Called To Serve’ Weekend. The ripple effect must work in a positive way too, right? Each new act of good will and charity will spread God’s love far and wide. So, please, sign up for a few activities, and make a beautiful difference. See you in the Social Hall!