Today, Monday, April 15, as I sat down to write this week’s post I received a call from my husband. “Jen,” he said, “You need to turn on Fox News right now. There’s been an explosion at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.”
I left my computer and turned on the television. For several minutes, I stood and stared at the TV, as chaotic images of innocent people, hurt and in pain, flashed across the screen.
My husband and I are both runners. We’ve both crossed the finish line of a prized and coveted 26.2 mile run. We know, firsthand, how marathons are supposed to go. They are supposed to be jubilant, thrilling, triumphant.
I watched the news for awhile. My girls were down for their naps, and usually I savor these quiet moments of the day to write for an hour or so. As I watched, I kept thinking that I should be writing, but whenever the idea popped into my mind, I countered it with the tiny, but significant, question: “Why?”
When tragedies like this one strike, so often the question we collectively find ourselves asking is, “Why?”
“Why, did this happen?”
“Why, are there people out there, who would do this sort of thing?”
“Why, the suffering, the pain, the death?”
As I experienced today with my writing, it is also easy to look at our own lives, in the midst of the evil and darkness we see in this world, and ask ourselves, “Why?”
“Why write (or whatever it is you do)? What difference is it really going to make in a world where cancer feasts, and children starve, and bodies are blown to pieces?
“Why fight for beauty, and love, and justice, when injustice runs rampant and seems to win the race?”
“Why try to fix these problems, when there always seems to be more death and destruction lurking in the shadows.”
I love The Lord of the Rings movies. Towards the end of the Two Towers, the second film in the LOR trilogy, there is a scene I was reminded of today…
King Theoden and Aragorn are at the end of greatest battle they have yet had to face in the war for Middle Earth, the Battle of Helm’s deep. On the brink of defeat, Theoden has all but lost hope.
Theoden turns to Aragorn and says, “So much death. What can men do against such reckless hate?”
Aragorn replies, “Ride out with me. Ride out and meet them.”
What I think the noble-hearted Aragorn is saying here is that, yes, there is evil, and no, there may not be a whole lot we can do to change it. Maybe we can’t fix it, or make it go away, but we can stand up against it. In our own way, right here, right now, we can stand up against the evil. We can stand up against the darkness. We can grab our armor and our swords, and we can ride out to face it.
Seeing the hope in Aragorn’s eyes, Theoden fills with hope himself and says, “Let this be the hour when we draw swords together.”
So how do we draw swords in today’s darkened world? It will take a noble heart, to be sure.
In order to tell a good story, six essential questions must be answered: Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How. And since we’re all living not just our own stories, but God’s story (HIStory), I thought that these six questions might help us determine a way to draw our swords.
Who? The “Who” in our story is God. God, who promises us, in His word, that in this world we will have trouble. God, who tells us to take heart, that He has overcome the world. God, who brings each of us into HIStory by creating us in His image, by creating us with a calling all our own. These callings are not just our jobs, hobbies or our ways to pass the time until Christ returns. They are the very way in which God intends for us to battle the darkness.
What? Whatever God has called you to. Whatever it is that puts you in the center of God’s will. Whatever it is that brings you your greatest joy, and meets the world’s greatest need. Do this thing with ALL your heart.
Where? Here, where you are, right now. Whatever it is God has called you to do, do it here. Do it there. Do it anywhere and everywhere you can, because God’s Kingdom is IN us, and this is how we carry God’s Kingdom in and to the world.
When? Now, and tomorrow, and the next day. Whatever it is God has called you to do, do it now. Don’t wait, because you are needed.
Why? Because who you are and what you do matters. It matters to God and it matters to our hurting world. Whatever it is God has called you to do, do this thing especially on the days that leave you asking, “Why?”
How? By the grace of God. With God. Through God. Stay close to God. Seek God, follow God, and He will show you that He IS the answer to each and every question.
If days like this one leave you asking “Why?,” remember King Theodan and Aragorn. There is something we can do. There is something we must do. We may never have the answer to all our “Whys?,” on this side of Heaven, but we can grab our swords. We can ride out to face the evil. We can ride out to face the darkness.
When the Battle of Helm’s Deep was over, Samwise Gamgee and Frodo Baggins shared the following exchange. I am choosing to close with these words because it is my hope that in the midst of the “Whys?” they will remind us of that which is worth fighting for.
“It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo, the ones that really matter. Full of darkness and danger they were, and sometimes you didn’t want to know the end, because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, the shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come and when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you, that meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand, I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances to turn back, only they didn’t. They kept going because they were holding on to something.”
“What are we holding onto, Sam?”
“That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo, and it’s worth fighting for.”