British MP Jo Cox’s murder yesterday sent the nation into shock, halted the EU referendum campaign, and sparked spontaneous vigils last night. The loss of a young wife, mother, politician and humanitarian, applauded by all as a woman of astounding compassion – not to mention the 49 killed and 53 others injured in the Orlando tragedy on Sunday – can leave us wondering about the existence of a good and loving God.
Here is the message I shared on BBC Radio 2’s Pause for Thought segment this morning. In the end, hate will not have the final say.
Pause for Thought, Friday June 17, 2016
The universe is a place of astonishing grandeur. Picture the moon spinning around us at 2300 miles an hour. Picture us spinning around the sun at 66,000 miles an hour. Our sun is one of 200 million other suns and trillions more planets in the Milky Way, and each one of those suns and planets is spinning around our galaxy at 483,000 miles an hour. Picture millions of carousels all swirling round in one great luminous sea—that’s our galaxy. And that galaxy is just one of 100 billion other galaxies hurtling through space.
The universe is mind-bogglingly immense. In comparison, our little earth is no bigger than a pebble, and our individual lives no greater than a grain of sand. And yet according to the Christian faith I follow, the God who keeps those galaxies spinning picks out that pebble, looks at each microscopic person on it and says: “I’m here. I care. I’m listening.” Jesus said every hair on our heads has been counted by God; that He knows the words of any prayer we pray before we say them. The One who keeps those carousels spinning knows us in intimate, caring detail.
That’s all very nice to say, but it can be hard to believe on weeks like this—when 49 people are murdered and 53 more are injured in the Orlando tragedy. When a French policeman and his wife are killed in another Islamist attack. When a young Yorkshire MP—applauded by all who knew her as a wife, mother, politician and humanitarian of astounding compassion—is killed so brutally. We can wonder how God was caring for them in intimate detail.
We know a little about what motivates Islamist-style hate crimes. In days to come, we may know more about the motives of Jo Cox’s killer. But many questions will be left unanswered. This tiny pebble of a world has big problems, and there are no easy answers to human suffering.
When the biblical character Job went through tragedy, losing his health, livelihood and family, he was given few answers. Instead he was shown the beauty of the world as evidence of God’s goodness. When Jesus spoke of our hairs being numbered, he didn’t speak naively. His was an era of racial turmoil and terrorism—even crucifixion.
Brendan Cox gave a brave response to his wife’s murder last night. He said he, his family and friends were going to work every day of their lives against the hate that killed Jo. I want to join him. Because for me, the grandeur of the universe says this world wasn’t built by or for hate, but by and for a love that’s brighter than the stars. And Jesus’ resurrection from death leads me to believe this venture won’t be in vain. Hate will not have the final say. Love will win out in the end.