Public Executions in North Korea

The news is grim.

In North Korea it is a capital offense to watch movies or own a Bible.

Recently I have read several articles about genocides in Africa, the lingering tragedy of the holocaust, and the absolute scourge of human trafficking. This world is full of human cruelty, and no country on the planet typifies the extent of this darkness more than North Korea.

What can be done?

Prayer is essential. But make no mistake, prayer is the earnest supplication of authority. We should pray to the King of kings for those whose lives are marked by misery and injustice.

But we should seek justice from lesser authorities as well. Where is our moral voice in this? Why is the world so mute when atrocity is at our doorstep?

Who will speak for those who already reside in hell?

And what cost to our souls if we stay silent?

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When we are weak

This was over a decade ago. A small storefront church, a young mother speaking.

She spoke about a children’s song–

Jesus loves me this I know/for the Bible tells me so/little ones to him belong/they are weak, but he is strong/

The song is so simple, so elemental, but it is only a portion of a longer hymn few of us know or sing.

We like the idea of Jesus being strong until he requires something of us.

We like the idea of Jesus being strong until he requires us to acknowledge our weakness.

We are weak. All of us. There is not a living creature on the planet who can stave off death, yet we cling to the illusion of our self-sufficiency.

The young mother that day was focused on the call of the Gospel–one man able to save us from death forever, and how to bind that good news to her children, all God’s children.

How many times have you heard a person cry out in grief and pain and then seen people answer–

stay strong/you are strong.

No. You are not. None of are. We are weak. That is the point–we are weak. He is strong.
So when sin and grief and pain hit you hard remember this: the song is true.

We are weak
He is strong
Only his strength can save us
From the swirling darkness of this
Dying world

Hat People Myopia

I have a childlike way of seeing the world. There is a story in The Little Prince that I have found very useful over the years.

The narrator tells us that he once drew a picture of a snake swallowing an elephant. When he showed the picture to most people the drawing they exclaimed,

nice hat!

They could not picture the inside of the snake–the hidden elephant, if you will. He determined to talk to the hat people about insubstantial things–golf, the weather.

I find my hat picture is acknowledging great darkness in this world. Who wants to read about child abuse? Who really wants to write about it?

Not me.

I would rather not. I have done it aggressively, unapologetically over the last two years because I realized that it is a too-common story exacerbated and perpetuated by silence.

It has been an ugly cause. Made the more ugly for me personally because I realize how many “good” people do nothing.

I won’t ever be good at talking about golf while the world is burning.

Someone I cared about and once trusted as an elephant-seer had a conversation with me that reminded me how lonely the world of the abuse survivor can be.

The person’s discomfort was palpable and they couched it in terms of my Christianity. I have a feeling a lot of people look at my story of unhappy endings and think,

she must have done something wrong.

Of course I have! I am a sinner. But mental illness and child abuse happen everywhere, not just in my life. We don’t talk because have been taught to be ashamed.

That is not freedom in Christ. Freedom in the love of God involves a central story of pain, humiliation, agony, the death of God.

I cannot see the survivors of the crucifixion singing glib songs of cheap sentiments in the days of the cross.

Beware of people who preach resurrection joy without crucifixion agony.

The story of heaven can only be told if someone is willing to reckon with hell.

Thank God He did.