Editor’s note: This year, CTA is offering more than a dozen themes for Easter preparation! There are devotion books, family activities, send-home gifts, and much more! This week’s devotion is slightly adapted from the FREE sermon outlines that accompany This Is Love, one of CTA’s themes for the Easter season.
If you know a three- or four- or five-year-old, you have heard this question many times: “Why?”
Why is the grass green? Why does my dog have a tail? Why do I have to go to bed now? Why do I have to brush my teeth? At times, all the whys are cute. At times, all the whys are maddening! What’s more maddening still is that even after you have simplified your words and carefully explained all about refraction and water vapor, the child who just ten seconds ago asked why the sky is blue has moved on to ask more and different whys.
If that describes your situation, here’s a hint from a certified child-development expert. Following his advice will turn every parent and grandparent here today into a veritable genius! Ready? Here we go.
It seems that when children ask, “Why is the sky blue?” they do not mean the same thing you and I mean when we ask, “Why is the sky blue?” Four- and five-year-olds don’t really care. Instead, those children are really saying, “The sky is so interesting. Let’s talk about the sky.”
And so, instead of describing the molecular composition of water vapor in the atmosphere and the refraction of light, you can instead say, “Isn’t the blue sky pretty? And sometimes the sky is pink and even orange! Those colors are pretty, too! The sky is so high. I like it when fluffy clouds float across the sky. What pictures do you see in those clouds?”
Notice, this has nothing to do with why the sky is blue. But your four-year-old will be satisfied nonetheless. Go ahead. Try it!
Some why questions, though, call for more serious thought. As Psalm 2 begins, for example, the psalmist asks a why question. Listen! (Read Psalm 2:1–6.)
“Why do the nations rage?” The psalm goes on to describe that raging, but honestly never explains it. Maybe you have asked that question, too, or one like it. For instance, why do we so often choose hatred instead of love? Why do we choose to hurt others rather than cherishing them? Why do we say things we later regret, but can’t take back? Why do we try to control the people around us, rather than trusting God’s promises to care for us? Why?
Researchers have studied all this. Counselors, therapists, and government officials battle the fallout. You and I personally may have some theories. Still, after all the experts have spoken, after all the analysis is finished, we find ourselves staring into an abyss some have called “the mystery of evil.”
The Bible has much to say about this mystery, about human rebellion, arrogance, and pride. The Bible has a lot to say about humanity’s unfortunate choices and about all the troubles, pain, and hardship our sin has caused and is still causing.
Above all, though, the Bible describes God’s answer to this mystery. That answer is not some theoretical explanation. That answer is not some new philosophy. That answer is, instead, a Person - Jesus Christ! Jesus is the Anointed One, the King, whose work Psalm 2 describes. Jesus is the King, the Son of God, who came to rescue, to redeem, to help. He came in love, despite all our raging, despite the hurt we have caused, despite the contributions we each have made to the pain all around us. Jesus came to be our hiding place, our place of refuge. (Read the last sentence of Psalm 2:12.)
You would think that everyone would have welcomed this King with overwhelming joy! But sadly, as you know, that was not the case. Instead, many rejected him - even after he demonstrated infinite patience and love for us on the cross and infinite, convincing power over death itself in his resurrection.
Rejecting and killing the Lord of Glory was not enough, though. Jesus’ enemies soon began persecuting those who believed in Jesus, those who loved and followed him as Savior and Lord. Why did the nations rage? They hated the truth and the One who brought it.
Still today, that same persecution continues. We see evidence that it is even intensifying worldwide. Just as Jesus and his first century followers faced persecution for the Gospel message, so too may we. But in the resurrection of our Lord, we find both courage and joy to take up our crosses and follow our Savior wherever he may lead.
It’s not what we might expect, but joy seems to follow in the wake of persecution. In fact, our Lord Jesus himself promised this. (Read Matthew 5:11–12.)
Several years ago, a Christian pastor from China spoke at a conference. He had spent 18 years in a Communist labor camp - all because he would not stop sharing the Good News of Jesus, crucified and risen from the dead.
His job in prison required that he work in the prison’s cesspool. In order to empty the cesspool, he had to get into it - chest deep. There was no other way. The stench was unbearable; it kept other prisoners and even guards far away.
We can’t imagine the indignity and the disgust! But in the midst of this ongoing persecution and hardship, the pastor found joy. “I could pray and sing hymns as loudly as I wanted,” he reported. “The cesspool became my private garden.”
God grant that we, too, find joy in growing more like our Savior as we follow the way of the cross, basking in our Savior’s very real love.
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