The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. So the Lord was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke his heart. [Genesis 6:5-6 (NLT)]

monstersIn preparation for my mother-in-law’s 100th birthday, I’ve been creating a timeline. After perusing a century’s worth of history, I juxtaposed high points in her life with what was happening in the world around her. During her life-time, my mother-in-law saw the advent of everything from three-colored traffic lights and the Monopoly game to E-Z-Passes and X-Boxes, from pop-up toasters and World Book encyclopedias to microwave ovens and Google, from rotary dial phones and the first airmail to iPhones and email, from the first transatlantic flight and Admiral Byrd’s South Pole expedition to space shuttles, lunar landings and Mars’ probes.

As I searched through the Web, what truly struck me was something I didn’t include in her timeline—man’s ability to be monstrous. It wasn’t just that World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War, ISIL, Afghanistan and all the clashes in-between proved that the First World War wasn’t the “war to end all wars.” It was events like 9/11, Boko Haram’s kidnapping of school girls in Nigeria, lynch mobs, and the murders of civil right workers. It was Israeli athletes being massacred by Black September, Charles Whitman shooting 49 people from a tower, Columbine and every other school shooting. It was the Holocaust, the Ku Klux Klan, and genocide in places like Armenia, Bosnia, Rwanda, and Dafur. It was reading of 100 years of atrocities—of man’s inhumanity to man—riots, beatings, intolerance, slaughter, and torture. The world my mother-in-law came into wasn’t all that different from today’s hate-filled world. Terrorism is nothing new; ninety-six years ago, a dynamite-rigged carriage exploded on Wall Street, killing thirty-eight and injuring hundreds. The last century had its share of violence, carnage and horror. It’s just that today we’re more efficient in delivering hate and the horrific results of our actions are better publicized.

In a recent Nancy comic (written by Guy Gilchrist), Sluggo asks Nancy if she’s afraid of monsters. “Nah,” she responds, “Wolfman, King Kong, Frankenstein’s monster—I kinda feel sorry for them.” Then she adds, “I’ve never been afraid of the monsters who look like monsters. I’m afraid of the monsters who look like people.”  Although I got the timeline done (minus the monstrousness of the last century), my heart is heavy from the task. I wonder how to fight off all those monsters who look like people. Perhaps we simply do it by refusing to become one of them. We must never stop loving God and our neighbor—no matter who he is, what he looks like, where he lives, or what he believes. The Apostle Paul put it succinctly: “Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.”

Although I think I have plenty of faith and love, right now I’m a bit short of hope. Father God, we so desperately need your guidance in the days ahead. Forgive us for the past and fill us with hope for the future.

 God is the only one who can make the valley of trouble a door of hope. [Catherine Marshall]

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. [Romans 15:13 (NLT)]

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