D and I watched the season finale of The Flash last week. Don’t laugh. Yes, it is a CW superhero show, the only show I watch now that Mad Men is over. I agreed to watch it one time with Dennis, sure I would roll my eyes and walk away. But the story is good, the writing is tight, the actors are solid. I haven’t missed an episode.
The show deals with time travel quite a bit, which for a comic, sci-fi novice like me, can be confusing. What happens when you start an alternate timeline? Why didn’t the current timeline fall apart when something was changed? Why am I thinking this hard watching a show on the CW?!?
Somehow after staying up way too late talking about The Flash, D and I continued our irresponsible march to after midnight talking about ISIS. This was last week when ISIS took Ramadi. I read this from Ann Voskamp. If you haven’t read it, please do. Read all of it.
When I could no longer avoid the images crawling through my mind and my escapism to superhero land was over, I shared parts of Voskamp’s post with D. We were devastated together, having already known these things were happening yet letting them fall to the back of our minds the way things do when they’re not happening to you. And we asked the big questions, the questions I think God welcomes because He’s God and knows the answers:
Why were we born here and not there?
How do you live when your children are killed and raped, when you don’t know where some of them are, may never know again on earth?
What do we do from where we sit?
How hard is it to believe God keeps His promises when you pray for relief and you get ISIS?
The last question is where we sat for a while. Two thoughts collided in my head at once as we mulled over that one. The first was from a sermon our pastor taught months ago. When students at a retreat challenged the idea that God gave us all we needed, citing poverty and the needs in this world that seem to go unmet, the pastor’s wife countered with the truth: God gave us all we need through Jesus. If we get any extras here on earth, that’s great. But those aren’t needs. Jesus is all we need. It wasn’t a callous answer. It is Biblically-based, true, though sometimes hard to swallow in the face of suffering.
That does not mean the rest of us should be apathetic in the face of suffering. Jesus said the exact opposite. We are here to glorify His name and seek justice, love mercy, help those in need. We should live our whole lives to do so. Situations like what is happening in Iraq should release in us a righteous anger, one that pushes us out of apathy to be the hands and feet of Christ. Yes, God already kept His promise. Jesus on the cross, Jesus resurrected, this fulfilled His promise to give us the opportunity to unite with Him. That’s done and will always be. Now we have the opportunity to act, secure that what is forever has already been taken care of.
The other thought that jumped into my head (I blame the time travel discussion from The Flash) was a quote from Albert Einstein I had recently come across that said, “the only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.” C.S. Lewis similarly spoke of time in Mere Christianity, about how it’s basically not something God has to have, but it helps us humans with our whole needing-things-in-some-kind-of-order tendencies. God is beyond time. So while there is suffering and horror here on earth, the battle is won and over, really. Maybe we haven’t seen that yet in the in-order-time way we’d like, but it’s still true. That doesn’t make it easy to be where we are, the in between where horrible things happen. It does give us a destination to meditate on, to tell others about.
So what do we do in the waiting time, that space where we welcome the coming of Christ, the end of what we’re surrounded by now? We use our resources, our extras given to us beyond salvation from Jesus Christ, to reach out a hand to those who need it. Voskamp gives two options for how to help those displaced by ISIS through Preemptive Love Coalition. Consider them seriously. And remember that understanding the ins and outs of time and how this life works isn’t as important as knowing the battle has already been won.