What in the Sam Hill is going on down here anyway?

My custom most mornings is to start by spending time reading the Bible, praying, thinking and writing in my journal. Then I turn to the news of the day. Today’s edition of the New York Times featured the obituary of World War II war-time sex slave Kim Bok-dong who died Monday in Seoul, South Korea, at age 92. She is seated in the photo below at a demonstration in 2016.

Kim Bok-dong, left, and Gil Won-ok, former wartime sex slaves, at a demonstration in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, South Korea, in 2016. The statue, carried to the demonstration, commemorates the thousands of women who were forced to work in Japanese brothels as so-called “comfort women.” Protesters have sought a formal apology from Japan and reparations.CreditCreditWoohae Cho/Getty Images


Kim’s obituary is well worth reading and really begs the question of how we often struggle to make peace with the events of our lives. It is interesting to read what is said to have been her last audible word.  In an Honor/Shame based culture like South Korea, we can only read this obituary and try to imagine what it was like for her and upwards of 200,000 women in World War II.

I gave this post the headline  — “What in the Sam Hill is going on down here anyway? —  because even after we, say, greet the Lord at the start of the day by reading His Word and praying, we never pretend that this world is our final home. We mourn with those who mourn because, as Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn.”

One of my faith heroes was John Stott (1921-2011), a great Anglican preacher and Biblical scholar. Stott always started his day reading the Bible and praying before turning to The London Times, which he read cover to cover. Stott said we should always hold the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other and never pretend that we don’t feel tension. He said we never imagine that pain, sorrow and tragedy somehow are not real.

I do accept the tension and in so doing often find myself praying on the one hand, “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and will be forever, world without end,” while on the other hand saying, “What in the Sam Hill is going on down here anyway?”

When we feel the tensions of life squeezing down on us, we can ask for the peace of Christ to descend upon us with a serenity that passes our human understanding.

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