Reformation Lutheran Church A Congregation of the ELCA

Palm Sunday, April 9

Seeing Past Sadness

Why do bad things happen to good people?

Books are written about that question, so it almost seems trite to ask it again. It is a mystery you cannot escape. It wrenches the heart. I know more than one wonderful person who is fighting cancer. I know a delightful, enthusiastic follower of God who suffers from bouts of depression and doubt. I knew a brave firefighter who was, by all accounts, one of the nicer people you could meet but who died unexpectedly, leaving behind a teenage child who had already lost his mother.

It goes the other way, too, doesn’t it - good things coming to bad people?

But it is the suffering of the good that particularly stands out in our hearts and minds, because we so easily relate to it. It has always been so. Consider from ages ago the situation of our Savior, Jesus - the ultimate good. On this day in his life - Palm Sunday - Jesus was entering Jerusalem triumphant, riding on a donkey, as crowds shouted his name and laid palm branches over his path. It was such an outpouring that when he was chided by the powerful to quiet everyone, Jesus said that if the people were silenced, rocks and stones would still shout his praises.

Yet, Christ knew the path ahead. He knew the celebration would lead to humiliation, torture, and finally crucifixion on the cross. Despite everything he had told his followers, they were in total despair. It was a mystery to them that such a good life would lead to this. They could not see past the bad things – understandably so. But Jesus knew crucifixion was not the end. Beyond that terrible event was the ultimate victory – his conquering death, rising once again and saving us from sin.

It is often difficult for us to see past bad things. They hurt us and haunt us and make it impossible to see anything good beyond. And maybe there isn’t any good beyond. It would be naïve to insist that every bad thing will turn into something good. What we can do, though, is give support and love to those in pain and try to help any way possible.

Through it all, we remember that Christ - he who suffered for us and overcame death - is here with us. Perhaps we cannot see how, or if, he really is here. Maybe we even think he has deserted us. He’s here, though, sometimes in mysterious ways we’ll never know. There’s no mystery in what Jesus did for us, so let’s celebrate like those who honored Jesus going into Jerusalem and look down the path, seeking the better things to come.

Ken Hobart

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