Without news emails delivered to my inbox daily, I feel disconnected from the world. I like my little bubble of ignorance. But that leads to an unhealthy withdrawal from the world around me, leading to life centering around me and my small needs.
But when I do take the time to read news emails or scroll through Facebook, I am quickly overwhelmed by all that is wrong in the world. I feel helpless regarding the lack of justice against groups like ISIS. I feel angry about the immigration situation and children separated from their parents – through immigration, yes, but even more, through abortion. I feel sorrow over the endless wars in Syria and Yemen. That’s only a fraction of the list, the most common issues I see. Other troubles are less reported: Boko Haram, Andrew Brunson, Venuzuela…
Recently I have struggled with that feeling of helplessness. I have wondered how to balance understanding the world around me with not being so overburdened I burn out or become numb to the sheer volume of tragedy. I don’t feel like I have a clear answer, but I did find five helpful things on the road to balance.
There are so many news outlets and so many opinions that you will certainly be overwhelmed to the point of numb scrolling if you try to take it all in. Find one or two news sources you trust, and follow them. Know whose social media opinions you respect, and don’t think you have to click on every link or read every post. Pick a handful of issues to focus on, and don’t feel guilty that you can’t do something about everything.
Also, make sure it isn’t all gloom and doom. Funny videos are nice, but even better are stories of people, Christian or not, reflecting the image of God in their sacrificial love to others. Check out WORLD’s Hope Awards. The news that brought the most joy to my heart recently was that of Israel rescuing White Helmets.
REALLY pray. This ties in with focus. When the emotion of your Facebook feed changes with every swipe and every post carries information, all you have energy and time for is a quick prayer. But when you cut out noise and focus on what really matters to you, then you can devote time to pour your heart out to God about the troubles you – and He – care about.
If you feel He doesn’t hear or answer your prayers for current events, you may be encouraged by this sermon, unpacking Revelation 8:1-5.
“As we pray for any given thing, our prayers are stored up on the altar of God with the prayers of others for that thing until they reach God’s appointed proportion and then God pours them out in blessing in the best way for all concerned. So that no believing prayer is in vain. Ever.”
This is the one that we think of as “doing something.” But all of these are doing something. And again, you can’t donate to every cause. You can’t volunteer at every event. You can’t even call your senator every time. Once more, focus is important. But so is any dollar or minute you give.
Spread awareness. Again, you can’t share everything you come across. But others may not know about something that happened. By sharing you can mobilize others to pray, or to help where you might not be able to.
While we can do small things about global problems, we can do a lot about the problems of those around us. In a recent issue of WORLD there were articles on the correlation between broken relationships and mass shootings or suicide. I know it sounds cheesy, but change starts right where you are. By not shouting at your kids. By forgiving your husband. By showing up for your friends. By taking a meal to your neighbor. We want to solve the problems “over there” and cry out about the wrongs others are committing. And that is not wrong. But we are hypocrites if we are ignoring what we have more power over: the relationships we have with those closest to us. Hitting the key to donate is so much easier than dealing with tantrums. Laws, elections, and airstrikes may bring some change, but the only path to lasting change is if it reaches hearts.
“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other… just as the Lord forgave you… beyond these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.
“Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
“Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”