Today the news relentlessly bombards us at such a rapid pace that it’s easy to progressively grow numb as wave after wave of accounts describing devastating calamities, local, national, and international wash past our eyes. Mostly we sail past the indescribable anguish that devastate communities, families and lives without feeling empathy or compassion for the people who are living with and through horrors that irrevocably alter their lives.
But that didn’t seem to be the case with the story from a small beach in Disney World that a week ago, caught and focused the attention of our nation. Of course, I’m referring to the dreadful account of the toddler who was cruelly snatched by an alligator as he unknowingly played near the shore of a man-made lagoon on the grounds of a posh hotel inside the famed amusement park.
Imagine the idyllic scene of a beautiful family relaxing on the white sands in the shadow of a fantasy resort as they watched their sandy haired son stomp around at the edge of the water and waited for the fireworks display to begin… only to have their world shattered in an instant when the large reptile launched itself from the murky and shadow water to snatch that child away, just beyond the protective arms of his father. You cannot help but wince in pain as you imagine what this family is, and will forever, live with.
You know, this horrific story in some ways is reminiscent of another family tragedy that happened at the beginning of time. While innocently frolicking in her garden paradise (still under the loving eyes of her Father), Eve was confronted by a soulless creature whose only thought was of her destruction. In an irreversible moment, she was drawn close by temptation, then snapped up and pulled under by her own yearning to drown in a lake of sin… And nothing has been the same since that day.
I know that as far as analogies go, this one breaks down pretty quickly. Eve was solely responsible for her actions in response to the serpent’s temptations whereas the toddler on the beach was just an innocent victim. However, when you think about it from the perspective of the parents, the similarities between these two stories do serve to highlight the immense heartbreak and loss that our Heavenly Father must feel when any one of His precious children is submerged in sin and drowning in the grip of unrestrained desire.
So immense is the tragedy to God, and so great is His love for us, that He voluntarily suffered the horrific death of His own Son to provide the only way for us to be saved from the grip of evil. (Eph. 2:4-5, John 3:16-18, Rom. 5:8)
The members of this family in Florida were ultimately the tragic victims of a hidden danger that was unknown to them. But… that’s NOT the case for humanity’s tangle with sin and wickedness. We have been adequately (and repeatedly) warned by God of the immense danger that’s lurking all around us, and beckoned to move away from the edge of disaster. Even a casual reader of scripture should not be caught unaware of our enemy’s schemes. Just as the Lord had cautioned Eve beforehand, the Word of God counsels believers to be leery of dangerous situations, vigilant against impure thoughts and motivations, and to stay well back from the territory of temptations that lead us into sin and death.
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. ~ 1 Peter 5:8-11