It's been a strange week. With so many of you, I followed the path of the Oklahoma tornado with horror and heartache. I had a friend directly in the tornado's path. We heard from her that the tornado was headed right for her, and her children's schools. And then we didn't hear anymore. Hours passed. We saw the tornado's destruction.
And I spent an afternoon praying. And crying. And praying some more.
Finally, we heard from my friend. She survived. Her son's school was one of the ones hit, but he was okay. Her daughter's school was barely missed.
But others weren't okay. The tornado had wrecked destruction. And I wept some more to see the loss. I am weeping now as I think about it.
And at the same time, I am writing my chapter on Resurrection for my new book, Wrestling with Wonder. I am writing on hope when all seems lost. On God's power to transform the most horrible things in life into glory. I don't know how He does it. I don't know how he can transform this tornado's horror into anything remotely for the good.
But I know he can. I trust he will.
Because Jesus rose.
Here is something I wrote today in my chapter:
So, who is this God who rises from the dead never to die again? Who is he who transformed death itself? Who is He who calls us to live in the wonder of resurrection, and see our world transformed?
He is The God who Makes all Things New.
He is the God who transformed the cross. And if he can do it for two rough-hewn pieces of wood, he can do it for you, for me.
Consider the symbol of the cross.
In Mary’s day, it represented horror and death, the worst kind of execution. To the ancient Roman world, it was a symbol of everything horrible, bad, terrifying. It was ugly. It meant disgust and destruction. It meant shame and agony and loss. To see a cross was to see a symbol of the worst kind of death possible.
That’s what the cross was . . . until Christ transformed it.
Right now, in my jewelry box, I have several sets of cross earrings and necklaces. I don’t wear them to let people know I’m a Christian, I wear them as a reminder of God’s power to transform.
Because the cross is a perfect picture of how God transforms the ugly into the beautiful. I wouldn’t wear a hangman’s noose or a guillotine or a gilded electric chair. But I do wear crosses. Why? Because God has transformed the cross.
We use it to decorate our homes. We put it in the front of our churches. It has become a symbol recognized all over the world. And it doesn’t mean death and shame anymore. It means life, salvation, redemption, love, and hope.
It’s where death turned to life, where joy triumphed over sorrow, where my life was redeemed. The cross, once nothing more than an executioner’s tool, is now a symbol of God’s redeeming love. It has become the thing that symbolizes everything that matters to us. It means new life.
And that is a shocking transformation.
If God can do that for the cross, he can do it for you. And he will. He can take the awful things in your life and transform them, too, for His glory.
Romans 8:28 says that “all things work together for good to those who love God, who have been called according to his purpose.” It doesn’t say that all things that happen are good, but that God can turn the hard things into good. He can make them into a shining testimony of His love and faithfulness.
The tornado is not good. The destruction and death it caused is horrible. But God is an expert and transforming the horrible into the holy.
Nothing is now impossible. Nothing is out of his reach. So I will trust him. Even now.