When history repeats itself

By Tim Lilley

Journey of Faith

I can’t remember where I saw this, but someone recently reminded us all that the Bible chronicles suffering that has occurred throughout human history. The Book of Psalms, alone, offers many examples … like these:

“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why so far from my call for help, from my cries of anguish? My God, I call by day, but you do not answer; by night, but I have no relief” (Psalms 22:2-3).

“Do not reprove me in your anger, LORD, nor punish me in your wrath. Have pity on me, LORD, for I am weak; heal me, LORD, for my bones are shuddering. My soul too is shuddering greatly – and you, LORD, how long?” (Psalms 6:2-4).

As I write these words:

  • There are 6.29 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide, resulting in more than 376,000 deaths.
  • There are 1.8 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., resulting in almost 105,000 deaths.
  • There are almost 35,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Indiana, resulting in more than 2,100 deaths.

That’s a lot to digest; but wait, there’s more.

Peaceful public protests in the wake of the in-police-custody death of Minneapolis resident George Floyd quickly got overshadowed by violent, destructive criminal behavior. People died; others suffered significant injuries; some reports call the damage to property “catastrophic.”

My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”

I suspect many reading these words have carried this sentiment to prayer over the past several weeks. We know, of course, that God has not abandoned us; He never will. Human suffering, however, also will not abandon us. Spend any time at all with the scriptures, and you will see that we are truly living a repeat of human history.

The pandemic is different; the hatred-fueled violence is different. But in many ways, they also are the same as those sicknesses and injustices our ancestors endured – going all the way back to Old Testament times.

Where is the cure? How and where do we find relief … a better way? How can we heal all of the injuries, fade all of the scars? By acknowledging, embracing and living the “new commandment” Jesus gave us during the Last Supper:

“I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another” (John 13:34).

What do you think might happen if we truly acknowledged, embraced and at least attempted to live that commandment? Here’s what I think:

  • We all would listen more and, in the end, at least begin to better understand each other.
  • We would forgive easier and more quickly, and we would mean it.
  • We would not only forgive, but forget; in the end, forgetting often proves way tougher than forgiving.
  • We would never ignore the truth that we are all created in the image and likeness of God.
  • As a result, we would begin seeing God more clearly in each other.
  • As a result of that, Jesus’ new commandment could never be defeated.

Is there a chance we all could sincerely make the effort to live Jesus’ new commandment?

Daily, I pray to God there is.