It seems like every day there’s another catastrophe. Another massacre, beheading, tornado or capsized ferry. With instant news and constant repetition, we’re hit in the heart with shocking events and bad news.
But the God of the universe is good . . . all the time! He hasn’t lost His way. He hasn’t gone bad. He isn’t dead or asleep. He loves us. His love, truth and beauty is all around. There’s wonderful stuff happening in the world . . . it just doesn’t make the news.
J.R.R. Tolkien coined the word “eucatastrophe” when he added the Greek prefix “eu” (meaning “good”) to surprise implied in “catastrophe.” It’s the unexpected appearance of goodness. He defined it as “the sudden happy turn in a story which pierces you with a joy that brings you to tears.” It has this effect on us “because it is a sudden glimpse of Truth” in which we “feel a sudden relief as if a major limb out of joint had suddenly snapped back.”1
Last week for example, country music star Blake Shelton saw a fellow Oklahoman stranded in waist-deep flood waters. He stopped, threw him a rope, pulled him to safety and drove him home. No cameras running. Nothing staged. For that guy, a eucatastrophe.
Or the 78-year-old Australian man who has selflessly donated his extremely rare blood for over 60 years, saving as many as 2 million lives. Imagine getting pregnant and then learning you’re at risk of losing your baby to Rhesus disease. Then you learn of a vaccine made possible by modern science and by the humble generosity of this man to whom God gave an amazing type of blood. For that relieved mom, eucatastrophe.
Take a few minutes to recall any ‘eucatastrophic’ moments in your life. When did something incredibly joyful overtake you? In a moment you least expected it, something good happened and you were in tears before you knew it. Yeah, it’ll take a few minutes to pull them up because that garden of good stuff has been paved over with disasters, close calls, bad news and current worries. But if you think a little and ask God to help you remember, I’ll bet you’ll remember a few gems . . . a few moments so joyful and good you were overwhelmed. Maybe looking at this short video of a groom overwhelmed by the sight of his bride will stir them up.
God loves us extravagantly in our humanity. Right here, right now. It’s up to us to turn our eyes toward Him and His amazing love and away from the evil and darkness coming at us from all sides. It’s up to us to remember . . .
“I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.” (Psalm 77:11)
And when this life is over and we make our final ‘change of address’, the suffering and fear will be gone. Every day will be filled with ‘eucatastrophes’. Forever.
1 With by Akash and Skye Jethani – Thomas Nelson, 2011, page 99
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