Pharaoh murders innocent babies, but Moses escapes in a basket.
Herod murders innocent babies, but Jesus escapes into Egypt.
Rival factions in South Sudan have killed more than a thousand, but over 100,000 have escaped into neighboring countries until the conflict can be resolved.
How, exactly, is this good news?
Biblical scholars say, “You have to keep the Big Picture of God’s story in mind.” I get that. I understand that God does not desire for anyone to perish, but for all to believe and to have eternal life. I know that Bad Things Happening to Good People has more to do with our sinful human condition than God’s will for us. If I want to blame someone for atrocities, I might as well go all the way back to Adam and Eve. There are times when I’d like nothing better than to pound their chests with my fists and yell, “What were you thinking!”
All that knowledge doesn’t help much when I sit next to a woman whose son died, and she asks me, “How could a loving God let this happen?” A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they are no more (Matthew 2:18). How do you comfort a grieving parent who refuses to be consoled?
Just because I can’t explain it doesn’t mean I can shrug off the sorrow. Just because I know God has a bigger plan in mind for eternity doesn’t diminish the pain of the here and now. It’s a dangerous thing to be human, to be vulnerable, to face the fact of our mortality. The Good News is not always sweetness and light. That pretty baby in the manger grows up to die on a cross. God has to watch his own Son, his only Son, die a horrible death. And God grieves.
God grieves all the Herods and the Pharaohs and the murderers of innocent children. God grieves us when we turn away from him. God grieves as only a bereft parent can grieve. How do you comfort a grieving parent who refuses to be consoled?
You weep, too.