We haven’t even recovered from Orlando yet, but the news keeps coming. Here’s a very incomplete list of the most recent round of ‘too many gut–punching atrocities to keep up with’ just in the last 10 days or so.
Israel/Palestine–children of both communities being murdered in retaliation attacks
Bangladesh–too many people killed a in hostage situation
Medina–too many people killed in three coordinated bombings
Baghdad–281 people killed in one car bomb
Chicago–reached 2000 people shot at their mid-year count, before 60 were shot over the July 4th weekend. At least 330 have died from a gunshot already this year.
Nairobi–an International Justice Mission lawyer tortured and murdered along with two others for pursuing justice
Baton Rouge–Alton Sterling killed by police, on video
Minneapolis–Philando Castile killed by police on video
Now Dallas-5 police officers killed and another 7 wounded
And there are still thousands of refugees on the Mediterranean, some of whom will die today, who we won’t hear about. And there was another bombing a few hours ago in Iraq that killed at least 35 people. And still more people will die today in the US because of a gun and lot more will be shot.
The head can’t keep up with it all, much less the heart. The news cycle, which is about real people and real lives, is too much. It inspires whiplash, grief, nausea, and anger. Yet it must not paralyze. It must also lead to action.
Here are some things that give us something constructive, something redemptive, _something_ to do with the darker, disorienting emotions that are legitimate reactions to dark days.
Pray. We must turn the mental monologue about these things into petitions, however they arise. These are days for constant dialogue with God, since they are days where so many things which are beyond our control occupy the mind.
Act. To do a little something is better than doing nothing. I can’t solve inherent racism in our country, but I can keep on working on the things God has given me to do, like The Repentance Project. I can grieve with the black brothers God has given to me, and make a phone call. I can’t solve the Middle East, but I can keep on doing what I’ve been given to do, specifically working for peace in Israel and Palestine with The Telos Group, and leading another trip there in March of next year. I can’t solve police corruption around the world, but I can walk closely and pray with and support my dear friends with International Justice Mission in Kenya as they navigate Nairobi right now. What’s the little something God has given you to do?
Speak up. There is (obviously) a race problem in our country, and it’s not the fault of those who were and are on the receiving end of systemic injustice that is baked into the DNA of the United States. And, America has a gun problem (obviously). These are conversations that need to happen a lot more and a lot louder in the communities of Jesus followers and our broader society, and God’s people need to take the lead.
Discern. Ask God, “Is there more you are calling me to do to be an agent of redemption, peace, reconciliation, and justice in your world?” And make time to listen to see what God will say. Have that conversation with trusted friends. See if there’s more for you to do than simply grieve or get angry.
Be faithful. What is your clear calling right now in the world? Be faithful to that, God knows what to do with it. This week it’s been important for me, amidst the roiling emotions and as an active response to all that’s going on, to keep on making and offering Corhaven as a place to for people to encounter God for themselves and as a living space for the Kingdom of God to come. I don’t know how that fits into the broader scheme of things, but it’s mine to do, and God knows what to do with that. Maybe not today, but maybe tomorrow. What has God called you to do? Do it with all your might. He knows how to connect the dots to the larger picture.
This week I’ve been pondering these words from Jesus, and finding strength and comfort in them. “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
And I’ve been pondering again these words from John Henry Newman, “God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission. I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good; I shall do His work. I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it if I do but keep His commandments. Therefore, I will trust Him.”
Rev. Bill Haley
July 9, 2016