” But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.” ~ Heb. 12:23-24
Part of my job is listening to people, hearing what is happening to them and their families and their communities. It is an incredible honor to hear the hearts of God’s people in West Africa, East Africa, Eastern Europe, and the US. It is also one of the most painful parts of my life.
This past year I have watched in breathless horror as families and communities I care about, work with, and pray for have been ravaged by unspeakable evil. Only this week, a youtube video from English-speaking Cameroon, went viral– Cameroonian soldiers marched two women, an infant, and a small girl off the road, and mocked their fear before executing them by informal firing squad, wrapping the small girl’s shirt roughly around her face.
I used to call the feeling of grief I got from seeing and hearing evil like this the “Iron Fist”, because it felt like an iron fist closed around my heart and I couldn’t cry, or scream, or even properly feel anything. But I couldn’t bring myself to stop looking, stop reading, stop hearing. Having suffered even a little myself, I knew that this was possibly the worst thing that I could do.
People that are suffering need someone to care enough to hear what is happening to them. The Destroyer’s first and most terrible lie is that his victim’s lives do not have value, that their screams will echo silently in the vastness of space because no one will listen, no one cares, no one will act, nothing will be put to right; the weight of their lives doesn’t register on the scale of the World. I hate the thought of those children dying with that lie reverberating around them with every fiber of my being.
This lie was birthed in our world with the death of Abel. Abel was killed by his brother. His brother Cain valued the short violent expression of his anger, pain, and injured pride more than his brother’s whole life, and countless others have followed in Cain’s bloody footsteps.
Jesus came to die with the meek, with the nameless billions who have been counted worthless. His death, his blood, speaks the Truth that the powerless, the victims, the small are worth so much that God Himself would choose to die with them. He chose to orchestrate His plan to save us around blood, not because He is morbid, but because of them. Abel’s blood called from the ground and shook the beautiful heart of God. Mocked, stripped, tortured, murdered; these are no longer words of shame, but words of glory, for all these words belong to God’s beloved Son, and are the centerpiece of His plan for saving us all from death.
These questions torment our hearts in the wake of each innocents’ death: will God have mercy on them in the life to come? Will He make it right? These questions are “too great, too awesome for me to grasp” Psalm 131:1 (NLT). But I do know God. He is trustworthy, and if He would die to give everyone, even the wicked, a chance at eternal life. If his heart is “not willing that any should perish” (2 Peter 3:9). If his eye is on every sparrow, and follows the fall of each of the hairs on our head (Matt. 10:29-31). If He is Love, and I know that He is….then I can trust Him with these precious children, counted worthless in the eyes of the evil one, loved completely, passionately, inexpressibly by our all-powerful death-conquering God, our Lord Jesus Christ.