pain

I’ve had a great week with my brother Mitch in town since last Sunday. We’ve gone to shows, toured museums, enjoyed 70 degree days, endured a snowy Nor’easter, and had some amazing “bro time.” (hopefully, this adequately explains my absence from blogging this week) All the while, Chrissy was in Puerto Rico all week for a special public policy class as part of her MBA studies. She talked to politicians and business leaders, studied various issues impacting the commonwealth, and enjoyed some great weather and food in Old San Juan.

But for a handful of families that we know of here in Boston, this past week was not so great. In fact, it was hell. I’ve mentioned on this blog our friends Aaron and Amy who started a church in one of the roughest neighborhoods in Boston. Over the last 3+ years, they have seen some amazing changes in the neighborhood where their church meets, including several of the youth finding a purpose for their life beyond the streets — including college. Well, two of the boys with whom A & A have been working experienced the loss of their mother this week. She died of complications following a drug overdose, but her whole life was tumultuous; an active participant in the life of the church a few years ago, she has been on a downward spiral the last few years, abusing drugs and contracting AIDS. She lay as a vegetable until this week, when she finally passed on.

On Tuesday, hours after news of the mother’s death, word came that another boy in the youth group had been shot three times and was in intensive care. The boy, whose brother actually lived with A & A for a while, nearly had his life taken from him in broad daylight (you can read about that day and the incident from a Christian guy who lives just steps from where the shooting took place, and actually heard the shots. His reflections are here.) The night before, the kid who was shot was at the church’s youth meeting. Earlier in the day, Amy was helping him find a job in the area. He has since been moved out of intensive care and is doing better, but please pray for him and all those involved. Also keep the 4 boys who lost their mother this week in your prayers.

How does one explain what happened in Dorchester this week? Do easy answers suffice in situations like this? It’s clear that God’s work in that neighborhood — and specifically the work He is doing through Aaron and Amy — is under fire. But this week’s events reveal a much deeper truth: this world is full of pain. This world is broken. The groaning of mothers in Dorchester and fathers in Sudan and children in Tennessee are the groans of all of a creation that seeks redemption and “making right.” Clearly, we cannot rely on our own power to “set the world right” … all human effort has contributed is more pain.

Thank God we have a Savior. Thank God our Savior is working in and through his people to redeem this world, one person … household … community at a time. May we mourn with those who mourn, and respond to suffering by speaking truths about the human condition. Then, let us announce the truth that God’s ways are greater than our ways, that the cross was the difinitive act of God that would begin to make the world right and end pain, and that we can both become “whole” on this Earth AND join God in his work in the world.

What good news.

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