by Erin Dijkema
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There’s something about this world that I can’t explain. It is so beautiful and simple in its natural and superficial architecture, its multifaceted collection of cultures, its ability to contain so many ecosystems, species and climates, and its place in the universe. Yet diving deeper into its simplicity there are complex relationships and connections right beneath the surface. These complexities manipulated by sin cause frictions, bounce imperfections up and around, and emphasize them until beauty is distorted beyond recognition.
Greed causes oppression and the exploitation of children and developing countries; anger causes abuse and self-destruction; impatience causes a largely uncooperative and consumerist culture; lust causes sex to be a glorified entertainment industry that internally destroys millions; lack of self control causes vicious massacres and tempts us to retain increasingly more and more needless and soul numbing things, self-centredness causes the weak to be unheard, and pride causes splits in the most faithful and powerful Christian circles.
However, beneath this seemingly cloudy layer of torment, evil and hopelessness, there are hidden pockets of the most beautiful, amazing signs of God’s love and mercy. Many of these are found in souls we barely take time to uncover in our busyness to alleviate the frictions of the sin and feelings of injustice in the world. Evidence for beauty is seeing those in poverty genuinely caring for one another, not just because they are family or because the other may have something to offer in the future, but because their love is genuine and does not rely on money or obligation. Look at those who partake in criminal activity and general destruction, self or public, but still confess the presence of a rejected knowledge or feeling of what should be done; such people often acknowledge being trapped in a lifestyle. Herein lies a hope for change and the repentance of many hearts if only more love would be shone into those lives.
Much can be learned from broken communities where rampant sexual immorality, suicide, alcoholism and abuse are present -in particular the native communities of the North of which I had the awesome blessing to visit this past reading break. I not only witnessed the overwhelming sense of hopelessness, sadness and despair but also the much stronger force of the Holy Spirit, spreading His wings and feeding the fire until there are those that thirst and hunger for it so desperately that they are willing and able to die to everything and change their whole lives for the hope and love of Christ. It is in these communities that you will likely find people who startle you and awaken your faith beyond imagination, pushing you to make changes to no longer allow any compromises to come between you and God again; because of the still present possibilities and miracles that are unheard of here in the south. It’s so beautiful, soul touchingly beautiful.
Beauty is also present in times of war and civil tension, where occasionally one will see human beings looking beyond the many walls of separation and grabbing hold of the few universal similarities of humankind. These people strive to act out in mercy, compassion and in communal cooperation; such that was being seen in Tunisia and Egypt in February. Beauty is also seen in the national outcry for help in countries devastated by natural disasters and in the urgent action of people not willing to wait for the government. Instead, they desire to participate in giving the nation immediate help, sacrificing a fraction of their worldly things. In return, the spirits of those ripped out of their everyday lives are still untouched by the physical theft of the disaster but have stayed true to their reliance on the important things in life, family, friend, community and faith, gracious for the gifts.
God is still redeeming us. The world is not completely lost to sin. There are those who place their hope in worldly possessions and social and physical security, but there is no hope in that at all, for it eventually fades away. All it gives to those who have it is the fear of losing them, as it so often happens. If anyone doubts the presence of hope in the ability to redeem some of the world’s worst characteristics, places or habits; one just has to look deeper than the despair and find the beauty created by people overcoming pain, suffering, hopelessness and the gripping habits of sin through Christ alone. Being a human with my own story with multiple downfalls and struggles, who is currently obtaining a sociology major, a business minor and a dabbles in international relations, and history; I have learned so much about what can give so many people a sense of heart straggling despair. What my education and my life experiences has given me is the undeniable truth of God’s ever present work in redeeming the world one person at a time through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, and the hope that fact alone can provide us with.
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