The news of war is loud, even when it’s turned off.
Graphic videos shock the brain, causing us to stuff their memory behind stacks of to-do lists like clutter in a “later” pile. We watch mothers hold their children and weep; others run for their lives while they watch their loved ones die. If we aren’t careful, the overwhelming sadness wins.
The story in Luke 24 of the road to Emmaus has circled my mind this week. Here are two men leaving Jerusalem, devastated by the death of Jesus of Nazareth, “a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people…” (Luke 24:29). A stranger joins their journey and asks, “What kind of conversation is this that… you are sad?” The story spills out, “We were hoping it was He who was going to redeem Israel.”
These men were crushed. The Jews were under Roman rule, pagan gods lined the streets, and danger of persecution waited in the byways. With high hopes and joy, they had followed this Jesus, believing He would change all things. And then, He was beaten, crucified, and gone.
What I love in this story is the gentleness of Jesus wrapped in a “Snap out of it” way. He calls them “slow of heart to believe,” and I am sure He is also talking to me. “Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” He asks. We don’t know the names of these two disciples, but Jesus did. He walked with them, listened to them, sat in their home, and shared a meal. As he blessed the bread, “they knew Him…”.
Death was wrapped in hope. He had risen.
Jesus came when they needed Him; stayed until they knew Him. And their hearts were fortified. In the darkest of moments, Jesus joins us on the road to say, “Trust me, there is more to the story.” Through thousands of years the Bible tells of despair turned into hope.
God is never finished with our story until we are home with Him.
Alexa knows one of my fav songs is “There was Jesus” with Zach Williams and the darling Dolly Parton. I play it in the mornings, in the evenings, and any time I need it:
“In the waiting, in the searching
In the healing and the hurting
Like a blessing buried in the broken pieces
Every minute, every moment
Where I’ve been and where I’m going
Even when I didn’t know it or couldn’t see it
There was Jesus”
The terror in the Ukraine is real, but there remains hope. They will look up to see “There was Jesus” as Jesus-followers arrive with provisions, medical help, and compassion. Pray for these who are serving and risking their lives to bring aid to innocent children and families suffering at the behest of an evil enemy. Give to reputable Christian groups like One More Child.
We join them in their pain through our prayers; we provide hope as we give.
“It (prayer) is the rhythm of standing in the presence of the pain of the world and kneeling in the presence of the Creator of the world; of bringing those two things together in the name of Jesus and by the victory of the cross.”
N. T. Wright – The Lord and His Prayer
Diane Strack, Founder and President of She Loves Out Loud