Please tell me everything’s going to be all right…

In two of my favourite TV series the same thing happened. In one case a lady was dying from an anthrax poisoning and she was panicking because she could hardly breathe, but a nurse and good friend kept telling her, “Don’t worry, you’ll be all right, I promise.” In the other case, a daughter had been murdered causing intense grief and anger, and a lot of unanswered questions for the girl’s mother, but the young detective’s simple response was,  “Don’t worry, we’ll find the killer, I promise.”

In both cases the response to a frightening or maddening situation was a promise of assurance that everything will be all right. Everything wasn’t all right, however, because the lady with anthrax died that same day, and even though the killer was found in the other case it didn’t end the grief and anger for the mother as to how and why such a horrible thing happened.

Despite the failure of assurance in both cases, and the obvious evidence that we can’t make promises guaranteeing anything in anyone’s future, it is still a cultural ritual in times of suffering and worry to try and put a person’s mind at rest by a promise that everything will be all right. Perhaps it’s an attempt to put our own minds at rest too, because worry, grief and unanswered questions are just awful things that eat us up inside if there is no relief of some kind offered.

So what’s God’s answer to all this? Well, for a start, it’s rather disturbing, because even for Christians God does not heal every illness or resolve every problem, nor does he guarantee immunity from natural disasters, from the typical diseases that kill us, or from the world careening into economic crisis or war. Offering assurance in this world, therefore, that everything will be all right, even for Christians, is clearly an empty and silly promise to make.

What God does offer, however, is the sacrifice of his Son, because in that sacrifice everything has been resolved for everyone forever. The problem of our mortality has been solved, so has our stupid trusting in anything but God that got us into all our troubles in the first place, so has the problem of evil, of suffering, of our bodies weakening and dying, and of our worries about what’s going to happen to us in the future. All of those things have been resolved already.

So when a person says, “Please tell me everything’s going to be all right,” we can safely promise it will be, because God has already set in motion the solution to everything in his Son.

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