The sorrow I felt when Ashli Babbitt was killed in Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2021 was overwhelming. I posted a video on my YT channel entitled "American Prayer," which received a fair amount of criticism. The last time I checked, the like/dislike ratio was 44% approving, 56% disapproving. I was accused of being "cringey," the ultimate Millennial indictment. Of course, people whose emotional health is dependent on the approval of others automatically assume their approval (or lack thereof) is important to other people. May God soften the impact of the hard lesson of reality, when (not if) it comes to them.
I had a similar reaction to the news that Russia had invaded Ukraine. I was instantly overwhelmed with sorrow. Perhaps it is "cringey" to people who take it for granted that the comfort and operational security they've always enjoyed will persist in perpetuity, but for those of us who are grateful beyond words for the grace to appreciate the peace of any given moment, not taking for granted that it will last (or exist in the first place), it is heartbreaking indeed to watch the loss and suffering of others.
I mean, heartbreaking. Not in the glib sense that is consciously practiced by people who have never known true instability, and who are (and will be) actually surprised when truly bad things begin to happen to them, as though some alien force landed on them out of nowhere, but in the visceral sense that can only be experienced, separate from any act of conscious will, by people who are surprised when bad things don't happen to them, when peace lasts beyond the end of the thought of appreciating it, or maybe even the end of the day, or even farther, by the grace of God in Heaven and nothing less.
Have you ever taken the time to thank God for the things you're not aware you take for granted? It's a liberating, humbling exercise. If you can't think of anything you take for granted, thank God for that if nothing else, lest He allow the things you take for granted to be stripped from you so as to humble you. Which He might do anyway. It is better to be humble, than be humbled.
Nobody ever thinks it's going to happen to them. No one. I personally think this is "proof" of our eternal nature, a type of would-be "forensic evidence" of our spiritual awareness of ourselves as infinite beings who are never going to be entirely snuffed out like a cigarette butt into the endless void of nil. Few if any of the Ukrainians in this video taken one day before the Russian invasion believed a war was actually going to happen.
In spite of the tendency of man to apply his awareness of himself as an eternal being to the temporary state of being alive on earth, however, the people in this video now have to wonder if they're going to make it through the end of the day. Assuming they're not already dead. The footage of a woman crying over her dead mother, which starts just after the 7-minute mark in the video linked HERE, is heartbreaking indeed. Did the mother really think a video of her corpse wearing a baby-blue tracksuit covered in snow was going to be posted on the internet, when she got dressed in the morning? I'm inclined to doubt it. Or what about the charred soldiers, scattered like morbid statuettes around the skeleton of a military vehicle, which starts around the 6-minute mark in the SAME VIDEO? Even though they "signed up for it," and they did, who among them really believed they were going to actually die.... today?
The question that breaks my heart, that fills me with sadness and horror, is where are they now?
Did they all just go to heaven? Or are some (or all) of them in hell? If they're in hell, what are they doing? Are they weeping and gnashing their teeth? Are they still incredulous about the pain and torment they are feeling? Or are they playing golden harps in contentment, looking down on us from a place of perfect peace?
We all know we're going to die, but we never think it's going to be today. It's never going to happen NOW. It will happen at some point in the future, some indiscernible gray day in which we fantastically believe we'll be ready for it. Even if we never spend a nanosecond preparing for it in the meantime. We will die, but not today. It can't happen today, because we haven't prepared for it. Why should we prepare for it? Today is the same as all the others, after all. We might have even spent our whole lives (or a week or 2) preparing for it. Today is our daughter's 16th birthday. Today's the day we fly from the frozen urban wasteland to the tropical island paradise for a hard-earned reprieve. Today's the day we compete for our place in the championship. And then, out of the blue, taking everyone by surprise even though it's been in the news, Russia invades. Or you collapse in the middle of the soccer match, at the height of your career, and in the prime of life. Or the plane malfunctions during take-off and you and a couple hundred other screaming people go down in flames, instead of on vacation.
We almost never see it coming. Even though we know it's inevitable. It always takes us by surprise. And so, at the last minute, the endless line begins. Away from imminent death, and toward life.
There are many voices shouting loudly, from both sides of the invasion. There are many people painting Putin as a war criminal, and there are others who claim that he is merely staving off the New World Order, encroaching on his doorstep. Whatever the case, I stand in solidarity with the dead. I don't care what kind of flag their corpse is carrying. I don't care if they were ordered into it by a commanding officer, or are defending themselves on the streets upon which they were raised. I stand in solidarity with the dead. I stand in solidarity with everyone whose souls are going to face the consequences of sin, unexpectedly, TODAY. My heart weeps for them. It really does. If you doubt it, watch the "American Prayer" video on YouTube. The display of emotion there truly is cringey, for those who still live under the delusion that death and hell and judgment and sin are "natural," instead of tragic. Who believe their tears of regret and horror and pain won't be unbearable to the point that the thought of making other people "cringe," of making doomed, smug people uncomfortable because they don't share your loathing of their own eternal destruction, look like an enjoyable way to spend a happy weekend in comparison.
I hate death, and everything that causes it. It only looks "natural," because we have accepted the compromise with it. But still our eternal nature chokes on it, and never quite believes in it. As it shouldn't.
Jesus didn't accept the compromise; He died for it.
He died to negate it, to give us an out.
We can take it or leave it,
But we can't change it.
Thanks for listening.