1. The world was good.
When you walk outside, breathe deep and look around. Think about the air in your lungs. Think about air. Think about lungs, expanding and contracting. Think about the gravity that makes walking possible. Think also about the difference between inside and outside: we tend to dwell in structures with walls and ceilings because we are comforted by boundaries, by order, by knowing our place in the world—but then we walk outside and move about on the surface of a planet with nothing substantial overhead, nothing but atmosphere between us and billions of miles of space; this is our home: order, boundary, place. In this world where we live, there is air to breathe, earth to tread, light to see, and wonder to last your whole life if only you stop to consider the simplest, most abundant beauties around you.
2. The world is fallen.
There’s a secret your heart knows. It has known for a long, long time, though you may not have told a soul. The older you get the more you will feel it, the more you will see it in the eyes of your friends and family, and in your own eyes when you look in the mirror, the more you will understand why Jesus had to die. Here is the secret that everybody knows: this beautiful world is broken. Something is wrong. People hurt each other. People hurt themselves. Sometimes you feel afraid and lonely. Know that everyone, from the President to the janitor to your parents to your friends to the kings of distant lands, everyone that has ever lived—knights of the Age of Chivalry and samurai warriors in ancient Asia, servants and spies and soldiers and singers, preachers and authors and plumbers and pyramid builders—everyone has felt the same. You are not alone in your loneliness.
3. The world will be redeemed.
We need rescue and God is the only one who can do it, the only hero able to complete the quest. Jesus lay in the tomb as dead as a doornail—and then he woke and kicked down death’s door. Light burst forth. Believe that! Notice the way your heart leaps at the thought of it! The clock is ticking down to the last sad heartbeat, the last flash of anger, the last dark thought, the last selfish impulse, the last cruel word, the last broken heart, the last weeping baby, the last dying mother, the last wicked laugh—and it is Jesus who waits at the gate astride his warhorse, watching for the Father’s signal, ready to gallop out of the skies at the head of his angel army to set us free forever. The world will be redeemed.
4. You are broken.
But until then, child, understand that you need Jesus. You need him because your heart is under construction. But from the moment you invite Jesus into your heart, the song of your life is written into the symphony God is composing. Every bad decision, every stray word, every sinful thought laid on the altar of his love becomes a shadow in a beautiful painting, a dark tone in a beautiful song, the conflict in a good story that propels the character toward the joyful ending. This is complicated. To remember your sin is to deepen your gladness that God is good. And that is the final thought.
5. God loves you.
The Lord of Life, the maker of lightning, lions, mountains, tides, moonlight, meteors, the vast silence of the stars, and the music of laughter—the one who not only spoke it into being but whose good pleasure alone binds every molecule together—that is the God who loves you. He loves you. He loves you (somehow!) even more than I do, and that’s saying something. You will spend a joyous eternity exploring the mountain of that truth. Lean into it, believe it, delight in it. Now walk outside, breathe deep, and look around at the good world. Notice the ache in your heart. Remember the resurrection. Be humbled by your helplessness. Remember the kindness of the King.