Sunday, April 5, 2009

Why Dostoevsky Was Right (or Bear One Another's Burdens or I am Sorry)

“I’m sorry.”

I usually hate not having anything better to say when I hear bad news. The phrase is an attempt to express sympathy, or maybe compassion. Or maybe it is just that “I’m sorry” is something I say when I feel bad.

“I’m sorry” usually feels like a poor choice of words. I have had people tell me not to say that because I had no reason to apologize. They said “I’m sorry” was just a meaningless phrase in such a context. I think it is just that I have a hard time finding anything better to say. I guess that is why it might be a good idea to just not say anything at all.

Not too long ago I read Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov. It’s a big book that takes some time, but it’s worth it. One of the themes in the book is the connectedness of man.

It is captured in the words of the brother of Father Zossima as he neared death. He said, “Every one is really responsible to all men for all men and for everything. I don’t know how to explain it to you, but I feel it is so, painfully even.”

For a long time I really had a hard time understanding that statement. I heard Peter Kreeft explain it once, and that helped a bit. He said it is the reason why a person would feel shame if his grandfather had been a Nazi in the war. That made a little sense to me.

I know of a little boy that has spent more than six months in a hospital in Minneapolis. He has been in a lot of pain. There are a lot of people praying for him. I am sorry for him.

I know of a girl my age that is suffering from a long battle with melanoma. She has gotten worse recently. I am sorry for her.

Some friends of mine just lost a baby. I am very sorry for them.

A friend of mine is struggling with depression. A friend cannot overcome his sexual temptations. A friend’s family is getting ripped apart.

I am sorry.

I sinned today. I sinned yesterday as well. Based on my record, I’ll probably sin tomorrow too.

I am sorry.

I’ve heard that death and suffering entered the world through sin. I read somewhere that we have all sinned.

I think Augustine said that sin was the rejection of that which was good and beautiful. He said something like that...

Suffering, pain, and death – the work of sinners.

The wages of sin is death.

I contribute to the sin that is in the world. I often do it without even thinking twice.

I get it now. We are all connected. Dostoevsky’s Mitya was right: “We are all responsible for all.”

I understand why Father Zossima said that “every one of us is undoubtedly responsible for all men and everything on earth, not merely through the general sinfulness of creation, but each one personally for all mankind and every individual man.”

I am sorry and rightfully so.

Praise the Lord for redemption in Christ Jesus.

“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’
And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’”

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Olivia Abigail Lahoud

On March 28th my niece, Olivia Abigail, was born to my sister Merideth and her husband Daniel.
They call her "Livi" and she is a beautiful little girl.

"For you, O LORD, have made me glad by your work;
at the works of your hands I sing for joy."
Psalm 92:4