today I opened the news from back home to see that the 4 of the 5 arrested suspects in the murder of a 19 year old boy in 2013 were to appear before the court. 2 of those chose to plead guilty, while 2 chose trials.
for the 2 that pled guilty, a 19 year old and a 20 year old, they both received 30 years for the murder charge and 30 years for the armed robbery charged.
the boy that they killed (and I will say boy because he was 19 and he had barely tasted life yet), I grew up with him. he used to come to my house in middle school and we, he and I and two other friends, all best friends, would hang out and swim and play. we would laugh and joke and, boy, we loved. we loved one another with that “I’ve always got your back, I’d fight for you” kind of love. that love that, at the young age of 14, you thought couldn’t be broken, ever. not by circumstances or by chance or by growing in different directions. and surely not by death.
we did it all together. and while we didn’t always agree on the actions of one another, we loved each other with that wholesome, rooted love.
and though we had grown apart when his life was taken, that love remained. that hope for one another was still there for me. that hope that maybe, someday, we would make something great for ourselves. that from the sidelines, we would cheer and rally for one another, holding firm to that love that we once knew. we hoped together.
after I came to know Jesus, I prayed for those three. I prayed that Jesus would do to them what He had done to me as I watched my life radically broken and changed and made new by the gospel. I prayed for the new relationships they would have and for the love they would find. for the people that would step up to cheer and rally right beside them while I did it from the sidelines.
when I read today that the boys entered a guilty plea, I wasn’t sure who the tears were for – for the 19 year old life taken, the life that I once loved and adored, or for the 19 and 20 year old lives that were tossed away. while suffering sucks, no one wins, not even the “winners”. who hurts more is a useless question because it just sucks for everyone.
I tell you, suffering is not easy. it is so hard when no one wins. it is hard when you aren’t sure who you’re hurting for or what hurts worse. it’s hard, hard, hard to see the wages of sin played out so deeply and painfully and achingly. it’s hard to watch people not know the Lord. it’s hard to think that boys as young as 17 are committing murder.
it cuts deep, to the core deep. and it is most unfair. I think that maybe this is the way that I see suffering played out most clearly in my life. while I don’t suffer like some around the world – I’m not starving, I have a roof over my head, I’m not ill – I do suffer in the heartbreak I feel for those that live solely in the flesh. my heart physically hurts to see sin so tangibly. my stomach turns at the lostness of the world.
and I don’t have an answer. perhaps that’s what makes it all so hard. there’s no reason or rhyme. except there’s hope that maybe, just maybe, God has a plan for it all. He promised that. He promised that all things work together for good. that not life, nor death, nor famine, nor danger, nor sword, nor nakedness can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus, our Lord. the same Lord in the promises of Genesis 3 and the promises of Genesis 15 and all the ones after that. there’s hope in the suffering because God is good and that goodness is the deep kind, the rooted kind. we learn it honest – that even before we know the Lord, we are wired to love like He does. it’s the good kind of goodness that keeps us going, the good promises and the faithful ones. it’s that deep kind of love, that “I’ve always got your back, I’d fight for you” love.