Protests and riots, hate and vengeful intolerance – it is all there in the happenings of the world, scrolling across my screen from what feels like another world away. And yet is it so far from my own reality? Beyond what could ever knock on my safe and secluded door? Naiveté and fear whisper, ‘No, it could never happen again,’ coddling an apathy all too rooted in mind’s thinking. Visiting Yad Vashem, Israel’s national memorial to the victim’s of the Holocaust, and walking through the chronological history of events one can’t escape how seemingly small and at times insignificant the steps leading to the mass murder and persecution of the Jewish people actually were in the beginning. A newsletter here, a rally there, small elections, leading to larger elections, sanctions…
protests and riots, hate and vengeful intolerance.
It all starts somewhere, and we can’t pretend it’s not real. We cannot ignore the happenings in the streets of Europe today- arrogant and oblivious- lest we wake one day to fists and shouts of anti-semitism filling our own squares on Main street.
Awareness not paranoia; mindful not fearful
In order to halt the gradual plague of deception and evil, we must first recognize its tactics. I personally have been most guilty of the “if-I-avoid-eye-contact-with-the-ugly-it-can’t-be-real” approach when it comes to world affairs. The past decade, my world affairs have consisted of having babies, surviving an international adoption and keeping a marriage alive and well. The only gradual tactics of evil I spent time contemplating were topics like, how is it possible for a Backyardigans songs to be stuck in my head for 6 days solid, or why can we put a man on the moon, but for the love of nap time, a leak-proof sippy cup escapes our collective abilities? Surprisingly, I have never seen these topics come across the nightly news crawl. My dear friend, and fellow-juggler of hats wrote an endearing and honest post about the mental whiplash we can experience between our roles as parents and our roles as world-changers and Kingdom-shakers. I know she shares the thoughts of many of us- it is hard to balance, but balance we must. The sippers of those leaky cups are counting on us, and burying our heads in the bubble is failing them- plain and simple.
This morning I was reading through Jeremiah 28 & 29, where Hananiah gives a false prophecy declaring the exile of the Jews in Babylon would last only a couple of years. Jeremiah is then given the charge from God to call out the false prophet, while also delivering the much harder news of a 70 year exile. I couldn’t help but think about the people on the receiving end of the message and how we so quickly can cling to what in our understanding appears as the “good news,” turning our heads and hearts off to the difficult, uncomfortable truth. Imagining the denial and desperation of the people of Jeremiah’s day- hungry to believe Hananiah’s fabricated, easier to stomach report, my understanding of those deceptive tactics widened, deepening my resolved conviction to embark on this new journey of courageous awareness and prayerful knowledge-seeking. Recently I read the following from Eugene Peterson’s book, Run With the Horses, and it bears repeating; Just as God’s hard-truth by way of Jeremiah also held a Hope and a purpose, so does the hard news we face today:
“It is certainly true that there is evil in world; a great deal of it. and it is frightening. If we live realistically, with our eyes open, we see a lot of evil. Seeing all that evil, how can we relax?… The evil is not everything, and it is not everywhere. It is named. It has an origin and a finish. The evil that has its paralyzing grip on everyone is not a wild uncontrollable evil, it is a carefully commanded judgment with God as the commander… We cannot afford to be naive about evil, it must be faced. But we cannot be intimidated by it either. It will be used by God to bring good, for it is one of the most extraordinary aspects of the Good News- that God uses bad men to accomplish His good purposes. The great paradox of judgement is evil becomes fuel in the furnace of salvation. Uninstructed by this vision, or something like it, we lose our sense of proportion and are incapacitated for living an open and adventurous response to whatever comes to us through the day. If we forget that the newspapers are footnotes to scripture and not the other way around, we will finally be afraid to get out of bed in the morning. Too many of us spend far too much time with the editorial page, and not nearly enough with the prophetic vision. We get our interpretation of politics and economics and morals from journalists when we should be getting only information. The meaning of the world is most accurately given to us by God’s Word.”
Lord, thank you the opportunity to join together in unity of heart with so many around the world as we pray over the turmoil filling the lands of this earth.
Thank you for your Holy Spirit to instruct and guide as I navigate the often confusing and complex issues of our day.
Please reign down in wisdom on my mind, compassion in my heart and conviction for my soul to seek and seek again after You.
Give me discerning ears and mouth, expanded understanding and divine opportunity to love and serve those in persecution, specifically the Jewish nation of Israel.
Build in me courage over crisis, trust over tragedy. Equip me so I may reflect You to all Your Creation.