Distressing news is everywhere. Blatant racism, police brutality, senseless violence and looting. Long lines of desperate folks waiting for food. Rampant unemployment, leading millions to wonder how they are going to feed their kids or pay their rent. People ill and in isolation, separated from their families.
Hearing the news day by day has become so heavy and painful. It causes me and countless others to feel perplexed and discouraged.
And it makes me ask, “What in the world can I do to help the situation? What do you want of me, Lord?”
I’m not certain what more God might ask of me as time goes on, but I know that some things are clear. The perennial requirements of the Christian walk can help reorient me now and get me focused for action rather than just feeling overwhelmed and paralyzed:
First, God wants me to always remember that this world is not all there is. When things appear to be coming apart at the seams, I remember something a wise man once said to me: “It’s not over until God says it’s over”. I must keep the eyes of my heart focused on Him. I should be concerned primarily about abiding in Him, for all that I need to live as I ought is to be found in my connection to Him, no matter the circumstances (see 2 Corinthians 4:7-11).
Second, I have Good News to share! Jesus came to earth in order to unite Himself with our human nature and, through His death and resurrection, heal and restore from within the lost communion between God and humankind which had been ruptured by sin. He came that we might have Life (John 10:10) – God’s own Life. He desires that we might, through our adoption by Him, become “sons and daughters in the Son”, thus sharing in Christ’s very own life as members of His Body. He sends His Spirit to be the “down payment” on the joy we hope to share eternally in His presence (see Ephesians 1:11-14). And He desires that we share this Gospel good news with whomever and in whatever ways we are able in our sphere of influence.
Third, I am to, “Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). Note that “pray constantly” (verse 17) is a whole verse unto itself! We’re never going to be able to do the other things – i.e. rejoice always and give thanks in all circumstances – unless we receive from the Holy Spirit – Christ’s own Spirit – all that we need through prayer, and most especially through the Eucharist, that highest form of prayer in which we are privileged to participate. For Christ is our joy and our hope, and we easily “run out of gas” on our own (John 15:5).
Fourth, we are to listen to Jesus when He tells us: “… Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you…” (Luke 6:27). How am I practically to do this? Are there enemies I need to love, bless and pray for? Perhaps not my personal enemies, but rather enemies of God’s beloved children for whom He suffered and died?
Indeed, yes. I am to guard my thoughts so that I not do the same thing that I am condemning in others: objectify and categorize others. We are all sinners in need of conversion of heart, so as to access the mercy and transforming power of God. Hence, I must fight with spiritual, not merely human, weapons (2 Corinthians 10:4). Something I read recently suggested that I try interceding in prayer on behalf of those whom I am tempted to blame and condemn; that I should pray for those who perhaps do not know how to pray, that the Lord would grant them the needs they would otherwise request. I find as I do this, it begins to change my attitudes and gives me a constructive purpose in the midst of the current mess.
Lastly, I am to hold on to hope, the anchor for my soul (see 1 Peter 5:11). My hope is in the Lord, not in waiting for circumstances to improve. “Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works…” (Hebrews 10:23-24a).
It’s not over until God says it’s over, and He isn’t done yet!