I grew up in India. Many of the memories of my childhood and youth, which have to do with the sufferings of humanity and animals, are engraved in my heart with indescribable pictures of sorrow.
I remember numerous occasions where animals tried to scavenge their food from garbage piles. On one side was a rat. A few feet away were a cat and a dog. On the opposite side there was, sometimes, a little child who usually picked out a banana peel and scraped it to get his food.
A Valley of Tears
Growing up, I also heard numerous stories of child abuse. A child, who was no more than ten years old, would work in a glass factory, carrying molten glass with nothing more than thin pieces of cloth to shield his tender hands. After a whole day’s work, he would take home 20 Rupees, which is the equivalent of 40 cents. When he went home with the money, the child’s father would beat him, take the money away, and use it to get drunk. The child then went to sleep sucking his thumb—ready to go to work the next day.
This is a hypothetical story, but one which could easily have been a real-life experience of a boy growing up in a slum. Stories like this are thedaily experience of many millions of people. The Bible calls this earth “the Valley of Tears”, and the history of mankind, from the cradle to the grave, is a constant treadmill of hunger, pain, sorrow and abuse. All of this has been because of sin. More often than not, this abuse has been perpetrated by the rich and more powerful.
Misuse of power and religion
Sometimes people have looked to a powerful leader with the hope that he will lead and deliver them. But far too often, these leaders have used their power to further abuse the poor so that they and their families can live in wantonness and excess. And when the “populace” revolt against this abuse, they are often murdered by the security forces of the very ones who should protect them.
One of the most jubilant promises in the Bible is that this state of affairs will not continue forever
India is also a land of many religions. Thus, people often also look to religious people for a solution to their misery. Unfortunately, this is often in vain. Religious people from every religion and denomination have also built their own “empires”. I well remember seeing the wife of a well-known Christian preacher beat a servant girl till she bled in her mouth. But on Sunday, she stood before the assembly, smiling in her “saintliness”. Will not God require this of her?
Animals also suffer. I remember that as a child, we had two twin kittens. I remember them playing and even eating from the same bowl. One day, one of them got sick. My mother did all that she could to look after it, butt in the morning it was dead. I will never forget the piercing cry of the other twin kitten. I wished I could have wiped away the tear from its eye when we had to take its brother and bury it! Growing up as a child and adult, I often wondered who would wipe away the tears from these animals, the children, and the oppressed.
The day of liberation is coming
One of the most jubilant promises in the Bible is that this state of affairs will not continue forever. As long as people, who are slaves of sin and selfish motives, have power and wealth, this world will be a valley of sorrow. But the Bible promises that the day of liberation is coming. This is the day when Jesus Himself will return and set up a new kingdom. On that earth there will be no more sorrow!
Jesus Himself will return and set up a new kingdom
Who then will reign with Him? These are people who through their time on earth followed Jesus. They did not live according to their sinful nature but rather denied themselves, and did God’s will. They will not misuse their authority, but rule with justice and mercy.
Do you want to have a part in this kingdom?
What, we can ask, will be their task in this new kingdom? It is written that God will wipe away the tears from every eye. They will be co-workers with God in this task. The whole of Creation is groaning and longing for this day (Romans 8:19-23). When that historic day comes, the day of eternal summer will have come—when children will wake up to enjoy their childhood, and women will no more be beaten by abusive partners. Animals and beasts of burden will have their time of rest. This is the kingdom of peace, ruled by Jesus, the Prince of Peace, and by those who have partaken of His life by following Him.
Do you want to have a part in this kingdom? Then do not live according to your sinful lusts, but rather follow the Prince of Peace in quietness and humility. Live a God-fearing life. Then, you too have a promise to wipe away the tears from people’s eyes and bring about this kingdom of joy and happiness.