Take Heart | UMC YoungPeople
Connecting young people and their adult leaders to God, the church, and the world
December 2017

Take Heart

By Austin Leeviraphan

A family loses their precious child, a friend is killed by a drunk driver, cancer takes away your father, a child who is constantly ostracized by her peers and is bullied to no end decides that life isn’t worth it anymore.
Sometimes life leaves us feeling like we’ve been sucker punched with the wind knocked clean out of our lungs, and while we struggle to get a grip we ponder those three letters, “Why”. Why did my son die? Why is there cancer? Why did she take her life? Why the heartache? Why the pain?

I am one of those people who loves to have an answer or a solution to all problems. Math was always one of my favorite classes, because no matter how difficult the algorithm was, there was always a solution. The problem could be frustratingly difficult and seem impossible, but I found hope and motivation that there WAS in fact an answer. My professor in calculus 3 would tell us before every assignment and test, “Show your work”. Most students would groan in protest, but I honestly didn’t mind. Showing my work was a way to show proof that I was confident and sure of my answer.

If you would have asked me back then questions like “Why is the world so full of pain?” “Why do bad things happen to good people?” “Why did my father die of a brain tumor?” “Why can’t I shake this depression that consumes me?” I would have squirmed in my discomfort of not having an answer and probably responded with something like, “I’m not sure… but let me tell you about partial derivatives! OH BOY!”

The truth is that I still have no answer to these questions. I hear students’ prayer requests of pain, heartache, and suffering week in and week out. My love for these students causes my heart to ache with theirs, and most of the time I struggle alongside them with the “why”. I find no definitive answer to the “why.” I can’t show my work like I could in math class, and it can be extremely frustrating to be honest.

So what is to come from sorrow? There must be something, right? There has to be hope that the pain will cease, that the tear ducts will run dry at some point, that our broken hearts will be mended and made whole once again, that something will overcome this hurting world…

Like I said before, I can’t “show my work” to give an answer to sorrow, but I know someone who can. Jesus offers a solution… and the answer is that sorrow will turn into joy. In John chapter 16, Jesus speaks to his disciple of his passing from this world. He tells them in verse 22, “Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.” Joy and peace that is beyond comprehension is promised to follow the sorrows, grief, and struggle of this life. The pain will cease. There will be no more tears to wipe away, and the broken hearts will be made whole… forever.

At the end of chapter 16 in John, Jesus says to his disciples “Take heart, I have overcome the world”.

Jesus is the solution, and He “shows his work” in the form of an empty tomb. Share this with those who endure the heartache and pain of this life, and let’s work to build the Kingdom of Heaven here on this earth.

Austin was born and raised in Norman, OK. He is the Associate Director of Student Ministries at McFarlin Memorial UMC, and has a bachelor’s degree in Communication from the University of Oklahoma.