Lately, I’ve been reading a book by Cornelius Plantinga, Not the Way it’s Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin. Seriously…it’s one of the best books I’ve read about the hows and whys of evil in the world. Plantinga writes, “In pondering the 23rd Psalm, Joseph Sittler once observed that though we walk through the valley of the shadow death just once, we [do in fact] spend our whole lives walking through the valley of the shadow of death” (1).
Ever since that unfortunate incident in the Garden of Eden, death is now the prescribed lot for us all (thanks a lot, guys). We are now obliged to suffer under the weight of our own freedom. Plantinga goes on, “You cannot have power for good without having power for evil too. Even mother’s milk nourishes murderers as well as heroes” (78).
Hitler as a little guy…interesting thought.
But you know what I love? The story doesn’t end here.
Even though the valley of the shadow of death may be our current address, Psalm 91:1 provides us with this promise, “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty” (NIV).
Yes, death and evil are pretty much a one hundred percent certainty in this life. However, God provides Himself as a companion for our journey. We can find rest from the scorching realities of life in the shadow of the Almighty. And not only this, but God has even fixed it so that death no longer has the final word.
“When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us…And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation…So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God” (Romans 5:6, 9, 11 NLT).
I’ve seen people make it through some of the worst agonies you can imagine because of this.
Then the saying will come true:
Death swallowed by triumphant Life!
Who got the last word, oh, Death?
Oh, Death, who’s afraid of you now?
It was sin that made death so frightening and…guilt that gave sin its leverage, its destructive power. But now in a single victorious stroke of Life, all three—sin, guilt, death—are gone, the gift of our Master, Jesus Christ. Thank God! (1 Corinthians 15:56-57 MSG).
This is Easter, my friends. This is what we celebrate in the midst of wars, accidents, sicknesses, floods. Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you”.
No need for a distraction from this reality. This is grace. This is peace.
More great helps for the journey…