"For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water."
1 Peter 3:18-20 (ESV)
A visit to any reservation in the United States can be a depressing experience for those who come from elsewhere. Extreme levels of poverty, unemployment, drug and alcohol abuse, and violent crime are all facts of life on the 326 reservations in our country. The Navajo reservation, where I serve, is no exception. Many Natives live in hell on earth. We Christians are left to wonder, “How can I share the Good News with those who have suffered so much trauma?”
Although many false teachers have taken the tactic of promising a better future on earth without suffering (on the condition of a robust faith), God’s Word confronts us with something different. We read that Christ went to the spirits in prison, what our church has believed, taught, and confessed as His descent into hell (Apostles’ Creed, second article). He went to the very worst place imaginable, worse than any reservation because there the suffering never ends, and He preached—or announced—His victory.
So, where’s the good news? The Good News is that we have a God who understands the worst humanity has to offer. We have a God who took on flesh and suffered “the righteous for the unrighteous.” We have a God who descended into hell. He has ‘been there, done that,’ and now He is raising up those who have gone through difficult times to minister to their own.
One of the members of our congregation, who once struggled with alcoholism (but has been delivered by God’s grace), shared his testimony with another young man going through the same trials. He said, “What Christ has done for me, He’s also done for you, just don’t be stubborn and refuse it!”
Yes, there is Good News! Through God's eyes, what may appear to be hopeless is a field ripe for the harvest!
Heavenly Father, thank you for the Good News of the Gospel, that through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, we can rejoice in his victory. Prepare our hearts and lives to help in the harvest for the sake of His Kingdom, which has no end. In Jesus’ name, Amen.