I hate watching the news. I get stressed and overloaded with all the sadness and I feel incapable of responding.
To be brutally honest about it, I’d rather keep my head buried in the sand and think happy thoughts.
This morning, however, I read Ezekiel 16:49, which describes some people as “arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.” It’s Ezekiel’s explanation of why God condemned Sodom.
I can’t just look on the bright side. What if everyone during Nazi Germany adopted that same mentality? We can’t pretend life is sunshine and rainbows when there is real suffering and injustice all around us.Someone told me that the same year that Anne Frank wrote “In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote “We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.”
Both were destroyed by an evil regime, I know, but it’s a stirring contrast.
On the other hand. Good does exist in the world. Anne Frank was right.
There are still people who will help an elderly neighbour or feed a homeless person, knowing they will get nothing in return. There are good people fighting against human trafficking and working to restore victims. There are decent people who are rescuing children from abuse, neglect and poverty. All around us.
People still love. People still care. People are speaking up for those who don’t have a voice.
But too much news and my heart becomes incredibly grieved, and while we are to “rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn” according to Romans 12:15, I don’t think God wants us to stay in that place of sorrow for too long. A depressed state can be quite debilitating, rendering us ineffective to be positive ourselves.
It’s good to feel empathy about a particular situation; it’s far better to do something about it. “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).
In The Hunger Games, someone asks the wicked President Snow why he chooses a winner of the battle royal—instead of just executing all 24 players to intimidate the districts from whence they came. President Snow answers, “Hope. It is the only thing stronger than fear. A little hope is effective. A lot of hope is dangerous. A spark is fine, as long as it’s contained.”
Hope is powerful, and it’s contagious. In the midst of all the darkness, it’s easy to become fearful. But instead, God calls us to have hope, to have a confident expectation that the future is under God’s control. And ultimately, to trust that Jesus Christ is coming back to make all things new—to wipe away every tear, heal every disease and take away pain and death (Revelation 21:4).
In these troubling times, I have been reminded again and again of Jesus’ words in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
And this hope I have.
(Cheerfully adapted from a piece in Relevant Magazine)