This is the first post in a 2-part series. Read part 2: Weariness and God’s Strength.
It all started with an unsuspecting jaunt over to check some messages on social media for a few minutes on a low-key Sunday afternoon. Just a cruise through my news feed, I thought, to reply to a message I knew was waiting. But what then followed was curiosity about the current goings on of my “friends” (you know how it goes… 😉 ) and reading mostly upbeat posts, cheery statuses, insightful blog posts, and beautiful images of life from various sunny weekend spots.
And in the midst of this slice of life from my news feed, I was confronted by a jarring photograph of a woman’s bloodied face and the far away, desperate look in her eyes after airstrikes near her home.
It was arresting.
Unreal, but sadly, very real…
It captured my attention, and I couldn’t continue scrolling down the news feed without stopping and wanting to know more.
LIVING IN A WEARYING WORLD
A friend posted an article on her news feed about the ongoing conflict in Syria entitled, “You probably won’t read this piece about Syria.” Well, I admit, the title alone may not have been enough to tempt me, but because of the person who posted it, and the excerpt someone else posted as a comment below it, I was intrigued.
My curiosity led me to comment on the excerpt, then over to the new browser tab I’d just opened that contained the article itself, which I quickly devoured soon after. The writer spoke of the anniversary of the conflicts in Syria and the news outlet’s attempt to bring attention to what most would consider “old news.” He exposed the underwhelming response they received on a whole, listing facts, figures, and website analytics to indicate the disheartening lack of engagement by the online community as a whole with their efforts to bring attention to the situation again.
What I found most interesting was how he called attention to the apathy and weariness that journalists face in this increasingly volatile world. A welcome change, he wasn’t simply pointing fingers at the apathetic crowd “out there,” but he seemed to understand that readers and everyday citizens too struggle with the same apathy in the face of all the weighty accounts of death, destruction, and injustice so abundant as of late.
After reading his piece, I commented on my friend’s post about how this struggle with apathy stood out to me. And then, bubbling up from my heart was the truth of our need to cry out to Jesus in the face of such darkness. Then, next thing I know, that comment turned into sharing the story on my own wall, then to an email to family members, and then here to writing this post…
While I didn’t set out to do all of this, I felt compelled.
But really, this intersection of events isn’t so strange.
Through it all, the Lord is saying something to me, and now, I’m saying it to you.
THE IMPULSE TO TURN AWAY
“I have never heard so many journalists say that the job is grinding them down nor so many people who watch the news say that they cannot stand to do so anymore. Bearing witness is [grueling].” –Barry Malone
There’s so much information to process in our world, so many different, very different things. Some so delightful and fun and others heartbreaking and mind boggling in its depth of evil or tragedy. It’s so true – it’s so easy to turn away. I mean, there I was in the relative comfort and safety of my home that Sunday afternoon, after having just woke up from a much-needed nap, and all I wanted to do was respond to a friend’s message. I’d just seen pictures of friends with their kids happily playing, read a blog post from a friend talking about sharing Jesus through life’s suffering, then another post from a friend at a beach on her spring break, and then the very next thing is this.
This horrifically real, but almost unreal, photo and story of a woman I don’t know who lives in a Syrian town far, far away from where I live.
It’s really easy to turn away, isn’t it? But we can’t.
So easy to just go on with our day, but we can’t.
Just a flick of your index finger or click of the mouse, and it goes away from our view.
But if we do that, we’re just burying our head in the sand, aren’t we?
When we turn away, the real-life situation, the real people involved, the real atrocities and wickedness at hand doesn’t really go away. It just goes off of our individual radar…
I admit – it’s a lot easier that way, isn’t it?
But then the Spirit of God reminds me that turning away is definitely not the way of Jesus and His righteous compassion.
“…’But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon [the man left half dead by robbers]; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, and came to him and bandage up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him.'” –Jesus (Luke 10:33-34)
The Lord says of the Good Samaritan that he did what was right in actually loving his neighbor. He saw, he stopped, he had compassion, showing mercy to the Jewish man he found on the road and did not know. And it’s this same God Who says to that man who asked “Who is my neighbor?” and to us who would read of this many years later:
“…’Go and do the same.’” –Jesus (Luke 10:37)
FACING A FLOOD OF DIFFICULTIES
And yet… It’s so wearying to think of all that assails us in our own lives and our loved ones, isn’t it? Strangely enough, earlier that day in church, the visiting pastor said the same thing about our world: Wearying.
I mean, how many people do you know battling cancer?
Getting pummeled by financial difficulties?
In utter confusion over unexpected loss or heartbreaking disappointment?
At wits’ end over family challenges?
Buried by anxiety and worry over the future or present?
And that doesn’t even cover your own problems…
Then add the rest of the world on top of that?!
Human trafficking and enslavement…
Deadly, sweeping diseases…
Corrupt, selfish leaders…
Brutal attacks on people groups…
Violent uprisings in lands far and near…
Natural disasters that spring out of nowhere…
Economic uncertainties and downturns…
An ever-shifting landscape of right and wrong…
And…. and… and…
No, no – STOP!
We can’t handle all that!
I can’t handle all that!
But I think that’s the point.
We can‘t handle it…
Now is the time to admit to Him that we’re weary.
Read part 2 of this series: Weariness and God’s Strength.