Dear friends in Christ,
I can’t remember a week with more distressing news stories. The situation in Afghanistan is a nightmare, after decades of nightmares. The people of Haiti, who have already suffered beyond belief, are dealing with another earthquake. The global pandemic shows no signs of letting up, and here in the US we see hospitals overflowing. Fires and severe weather patterns continue to grow worse as climate change accelerates. Add to that the ongoing news of violence, oppression, and scandal, and it’s too much to bear.
What are we Christians to do in the face of impossible problems and insurmountable suffering?
I believe our response begins in prayer. And we should not just start there. Praying without ceasing is never the wrong thing to do. Prayer on its own can change things, and prayer can certainly shape our own hearts. Prayer is action, but it’s not the only kind of action.
As the old saying goes, if you feed someone, you’re not changing world hunger, but you are changing one person’s hunger. That’s simplistic, and there are all kinds of problems with this approach. It’s also not wrong.
So one person can change the world, one life at a time starting with our own. There are lots of small ways we can respond to the suffering in the world beyond our prayers (and I hope we always pray!). We can contact politicians to seek policy changes. We can donate money to reputable non-profit organizations who are working in the places about which we’re concerned. We can look at our own behavior and encourage behavior changes in our friends and colleagues. We can be bearers of grace and mercy in a world that often lacks both.
Whenever I’m not sure where to begin, I pray. Lately, I’ve found the Great Litany to be just the thing. I also like to talk with wise friends who are also seeking to offer a compassionate response to what we see in the news.
The worst thing we can do is to accept evil, suffering, and sin as inevitable. We must make no peace with oppression, violence, degradation, or suffering of any kind. After all, we follow a Savior who defeated the forces of might and evil in his day by his death and resurrection on the third day. God’s love is always stronger than the evil of this world.
Will you join me in prayer? And then let us offer grace and mercy in this world.
More from our ministry:
Online Course: Civil Conversations in Uncivil Times with Ray Suarez
From Grow Christians, our family blog: Little by Little
Reading suggestion: The Path: A Journey Through the Bible