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Her mother had promised she would stay around until the semester ended so her daughter wouldn't be distracted during finals.
After her last exam, she raced home, and as she walked into the kitchen, her father told her mother their daughter was home. Her mom opened her eyes, smiled and then died.
It was the day before her 21st birthday.
She called her dad recently to beg, "Daddy, you have to fix this!"
For decades she's lived with his drunkenness and brutish behavior. He's shredded her self-esteem, destroyed her sense of joy. She could leave if she wanted to, or maybe she can't. Maybe it's easier living with the devil you know rather than facing the one you don't.
Besides, she stopped caring a long time ago. Her prayers for him have gone unanswered. She wonders, "Why doesn't God do something? Why won't God fix this?"
Their youngest brother has spent his adult life in and out of jail, off and on drugs. He lives with a woman who beats him up. One night, after yet one more beating, he ran away, barefoot and broken. He ran for miles and miles and miles before he called one of his sisters.
Safe on her couch, with his head on his sister's lap, he cried. When a woman is beaten by a man, that's horrific. When a man is beaten by a woman, that's humiliating - and he keeps going back.
His sisters pray that God will fix their brother, make him strong and whole and healthy, find faith and hope and peace in his life, but their prayers so far have fallen on heaven's deaf ears.
She'd come to the women's retreat with a sharp pain in her heart. After 10 years and three children, she had just learned that her husband was leaving her for a man.
As she smeared her mascara wiping away tears that wouldn't quit, as the other women held her and cried with her, an unspoken plea screamed out, "God, fix this - please!"
I could go on (and so could you) with stories about the stuff that haunts and pierces, that drives you to drink or eat or harden your heart so you can't feel any more.
Divorce. Disease. Disaster. Joblessness. Homelessness. Hopelessness. Barrenness. Meaninglessness. A broken heart. Broken promises. Broken dreams.
Even in life's best moments, a sense that this isn't all you hoped it would be, that something's missing, something so deep within that you wonder if it could ever be reached, causes you to whisper into the darkness, "God, fix this - please?"
God's answer is Easter.
For God so loved the world, begins the most famous gospel verse. He so loved - that he gave. He gave his only, cherished, sinless Son that whosoever trusts and believes in, clings to and relies on this Son shall not ever be ultimately lost but can have a whole and meaningful life, both now and forever.
Listen to this: "God didn't go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was (we already know how bad it is - we live it every day). He came to help, to put the world right again" (John 3:16-17, The Message, added commentary mine).
God sent his Son to fix the world, to fix people (that's you and me), through the cross. It was there that Christ willingly heaped upon himself all that needs to be fixed - our sins and suffering, our confusion, pain and longing - and where God heaped on him the punishment we deserved (whether we think we deserve it or not).
He took our death sentence and died in our place, first having lived perfectly, because we could never do it on our own. A perfect life, a perfect death and then a glorious resurrection as proof that everything written about him was true - that we truly can exchange our brokenness for his wholeness, our imperfection for his perfection.
God has fixed the world, even though we don't see it yet, not completely. However, he has given us glimpses. He fixes some things now, but not all things. He answers prayer.
He gives hope and meaning and moments of joy. We have his name, his power, his loving-kindness and his care - and everlasting life. Amen!