There are certain place names that have been seared into our collective consciousness. Names we will never forget. Names that provoke instant, dark images in our minds.
Auschwitz, The Gulag, Chernobyl, Sandy Hook, Shanksville.
Add one more name: Tree of Life Synagogue.
You don’t have to be Jewish to be nauseated by what happened this past Saturday at the Tree of Life Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill section of Pittsburgh, PA. Innocent people killed simply because of their nationality and faith.
We forget how strong hate is.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, writing against the backdrop of the Civil War reminds us of the power of hate in his poem Christmas Bells, later made into the song, I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day. (I especially like this dramatized version of the song that you can listen to here.)
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 we stop to only look at the evil in our world this will be the verse we sing – over and over again.
But there’s more than just the power of evil in this world. And that’s the story of Christmas. Jesus came to defeat the powers of evil and in a strange twist of events did just that – not at Bethlehem but at Calvary (Colossians 2:13-15).
Longfellow seemed to understand that. He concluded his poem with these words:
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.”
No God is not asleep. He knows what is going on in our world. He knows the evil. He knows the hurting. And someday, in His time, The Right will prevail.
We have that to look forward to. Not because Longfellow said it, but because the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob said it.
Now it shall come to pass in the latter days . . .
They shall beat their swords into plowshares,
And their spears into pruning hooks;
Nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
Neither shall they learn war anymore.
(Isaiah 2:2, 4)
Someday the Messiah will come and The Righteous One will sit on the Throne of David and there will be peace (Isaiah 9:7).
And that Righteous One will make sure that Evil will be no more.
Stay in the Word