July 7, 2022
A tragedy is defined as “an event causing great suffering, destruction, and distress, such as a serious accident, crime, or natural catastrophe” (Lexico.com). In the month of May we witnessed a great tragedy: the senseless deaths of 19 children—not teenagers, not young adults, but elementary school children—along with two teachers in Uvalde, Texas. And this was two weeks after the racially motivated killing of 10 people in a Buffalo supermarket. June wasn’t much better, considering the ongoing war in Ukraine and its daily toll of human lives. Then there were the tragic deaths of 53 migrants who were being smuggled into the U.S. from Mexico in the back of a semitruck in the midst of a Texas heat wave. One can only imagine dying under such circumstances. It was another senseless tragedy caused by human evil.
In preparation for my Spanish classes each week, I read the newspapers from Guatemala so my teacher and I can talk about what is going on in her part of the world. Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras are three of the most violent countries in the world. But to have 19 children brutally murdered, their bodies ripped apart by bullets from a high-velocity rifle, is something not seen even in these most violent countries. Needless to say, the story of the killing in Uvalde, Texas, was front-page news throughout all of Central America. Even in their violent culture, such a tragedy is inconceivable.
Every Sabbath, it seems, our pastors could stand before their congregations and speak about human tragedies that took place the previous week. There is something unfolding in our country and the world, a pervasive evil that seems beyond anyone’s control. Whether it is due to mental illness or pure depravity, the result is the same—multiple episodes of human suffering and death. We should not discount the involvement of the spirit world in all of this. There are demonic influences at work. Daniel described the spirit world and the reality of spiritual battles taking place—Michael fighting “the prince of the kingdom of Persia” is an example (Daniel 10:13). Christ taught His disciples to pray for deliverance from the evil one (Matthew 6:13), who is called a murderer and a liar (John 8:44). The evil spirits that roam this earth seek to destroy human life and ultimately to thwart God’s plan for humanity. Understanding the purpose of human life in God’s plan of salvation is extremely important. It helps us understand that there is great value in every human life.
In recent weeks I have found it extremely sad to see the ever-increasing division and lack of any moral compass in our world. How can anyone decry the deaths of 19 elementary school children and then demonstrate for the right to kill an unborn child? It seems strange to me, but not only is it happening, but these demonstrations are becoming increasingly violent. No one knows where this potential for violence will lead over the course of the summer here in the United States. It will be a hot summer, physically and morally, in the U.S. with a growing potential for conflict and the loss of more lives.
Statistics only reinforce the idea that human life is not valued by society. The website worldometers.info says that according to WHO an estimated 40 million to 50 million abortions take place each year in the world. That is 125,000 every day. In the United States one out of every five pregnancies is terminated by abortion, or 3,000 per day. Additionally, according to the website worldpopulationreview.com, 464,000 people were murdered in 2017, more than five times as many as were killed in armed conflicts that same year. These statistics show a denial of both the glory that God gave man at creation and the potential that God gave man to join His family in His coming Kingdom.
Instead of listening to the rambling arguments of people debating about “human rights,” we really should be asking ourselves, What value does God place on a human life? There are two sections of Scripture that clearly describe God’s view. One is found in the Old Testament, and the other is a restatement of the same description in the New Testament.
David wrote in Psalm 8: “What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and honor. You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen—even the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea that pass through the paths of the seas” (verses 4-8).
This same description is quoted from Psalm 8 in the New Testament: “But one testified in a certain place, saying, ‘What is man that You are mindful of him, or the son of man that You take care of him? You have made him a little lower than the angels; You have crowned him with glory and honor; and set him over the works of your hands. You have put all things in subjection under his feet’” (Hebrews 2:6-8). Notice that God “crowned [man] with glory and honor.” There is a glory and honor to human life even in this physical body. Man is not an animal, nor was he created after the animal kind (Genesis 1:26).
The purpose in God’s plan is then laid out in verse 10 of Hebrews chapter 2: “For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through suffering.” God’s purpose is to bring “many sons to glory.” While it is easy to get discouraged when looking at the world—and, indeed, our hearts break for all those who are experiencing tragedies—it is the hope for the future that keeps us all going.
My wife and I just returned from a brief trip to Florida to visit my 92-year-old mother, who recently fell and was in the hospital for two days. She is declining both physically and mentally. She was always the type of person who had to be doing something, normally taking care of her home and family. Now, it can seem as if she is basically just waiting for the end of her life, and it is hard to watch. But knowing the future, and the fact that she has been faithful since she was called as a 21-year-old wife and mother, is encouraging. Only one thing has kept her going through many trials and difficulties over her 92 years, and that has been her hope for the future—the return of Jesus Christ and the promise of eternal life in the Kingdom of God, which is the same hope we all have.
Sincerely, your brother in Christ,