When you live in the country, there are little tragedies everywhere: a beautiful kestrel, having been hit by a car, now is a chaotic bundle of feathers on the road; this majestic bird is now grounded forever. A quail, who had been hit by a car on a road I walk, literally was breathing his last in front of me—his eyes were closed, but I could see his chest rising and falling. I have seen beautiful snakes who had ventured out onto the roads to sun themselves and then fall prey to the tires of a car.
The saddest one of all that I have seen is a dead deer, caught on a barbwire fence. I walk a road that veers off from the river. It is a dirt road, with no lights save distant ones from farmhouses and porches. I don’t usually see deer during the day—I presume they are hunkered down in the shade, away from the heat of the sun. But in the cooler parts of the day, out they come. This deer probably came out in the early evening, onto a road that is quite dark and is used a lot.
From what I can see of her, this is probably what happened: a car came down the road, she turned, saw the headlights and was partially blinded by them. She then panicked and tried to run. Her instinct said to run up the embankment that would take her safely into the hills. The other side of the road is a vast field, and may not have felt as safe to her. She bounded up the embankment, not seeing the barbwire fence, or at least forgetting about it in her fear—and boom--into it she went.
Why did she die, however? Couldn’t she have disentangled herself from the wire? She made it part way over—couldn’t she have fought the wire and tried to get the rest of her body up and over? Did the force of impact kill her? Now, all is left of her is a dried carcass straddled over the fence. She saddens me each time I pass by her. Her carcass is a sad silent testimony to a small tragedy that occurred along a dusty road.
I think we would all agree there is a lot of sadness in the world. Just turn on the evening news, and there is little to celebrate. I know that broadcast news tries to lighten the bad news with human interest stories, to make the world a little less dark of a place. But the bad news is just that, and a nice story here or there doesn’t always lighten the burden.
But I think the greater tragedy is the fear that grips mankind. People fear, and with good reason, war, murder, rape, and death. People struggle every day, fearing there will be no food or not enough food. People look for work, fearing their loss of earning a living will lead to the loss of their home and all that they have worked for. People fear for the safety of their children. People fear their governments, who butcher their own people and threaten the world with a nuclear holocaust.
But, the One Who knows the number of hairs on our head, and knows when a sparrow falls to the ground, also knows our fears. He knows how we can panic, and run right into the barbwire of fear—becoming entangled and alone. If I, a sinful human being, can have compassion for a dead doe on a fence, how much more does the Heavenly Father ache for mankind, and the fears that grip us so? He offers us a new way to see the world: He is intimately engaged with us, and is not a distant, uncaring Being.
But, why does He let people suffer? Perhaps a better question is, why do we let people suffer? In exercising our wills, we have chosen to rule this planet poorly, so much so that when He returns, even the animals will cease to fear:
“The wolf will live with the lamb,
The leopard will lie down with the goat,
The calf and the lion and the yearling together,
And a little child will lead them.
The cow will feed with the bear,
Their young will lie down together,
And the lion will eat straw like the ox…
They will neither harm nor destroy on all My holy mountain,
For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
As the waters covers the sea.” (Isaiah 11:6-7 & 9)
Jesus is the Prince of Peace, the Light of the World—the Very One Who came to save us, and release us from our fears. Someday, His whole planet will be under His dominion of peace…until that day, He meets us where we are, and seeks to disentangle us from sin and death.
Precious Lord: I need to know, more than ever, the Prince of Peace, for the world is a scary place, filled with fear and pain. Let me reflect Your light, and let me promote Your peace. Let me rest in the knowledge that You are still engaged with this world—if I doubt, then let me consider: why did You come to die for us then? It is Your love that will ultimately cease the strivings of this world, and it is Your love that calms my fears. Always, in the name of the Prince of Peace, amen.