Image from CNN, showing Syrian Kurds behind border fences to cross into Suruc.
prism0prone asked a question:
Why isn’t anything being done about ISIS? We’re all just living our privileged little lives. As the days pass I feel more depressed & farther away from God. I cry to Him about it but I hear nothing & I’m afraid. And every time I see a cheerful Christian post about God keeping us safe, I feel bitterness and anger and I can feel my emotions slowly shutting down and I don’t want that but it just hurts. So. Much.
My friend, honestly, your question very much stirred me and disturbed me and convicted me. It broke my heart.
Because I think I’m part of the problem. I post prayer requests about ISIS or some other atrocity or disaster or tragedy, and I question myself. Am I doing this to show I care? Do I really care? Can I do more? If there are 27 million slaves in the world and 26,000 children who die everyday of preventable causes: how could I even be on this blog? How could I even think about anything else?
It’s so discouraging. To be truthful, it keeps me up at night. I’m not saying that to boast. The one time I really did anything about it a few years ago, I gave away half my salary to fight human trafficking, and even then, I felt guilty that I wasn’t doing enough. I don’t say that to boast, either. We live in a painfully broken world where even a single glance at it could eat us alive.
There’s another layer to this guilt, too. Sometimes I think I use poor people as a prop for my own “savior-narrative.” Or I become a pseudo-Social Justice Warrior about issues I’ve hardly researched, or I try to be a Google-Expert about statistics that I haven’t double-checked. I donate money to various charities every month, but maybe even this is because I look around my apartment and I see wealth, and it disgusts me, and I donate out of a self-loathing heart. I want to boycott a billion different things, or say to everyone, “Your problems are dumb, because kids in Somalia are dying and there’s still genocide in Iraq and 80% of the world lives on less than a dollar per day.”
The more news I read, the more it kills me inside. The more I see mocked up selfies, and cute Christianese slogans on Instagram, or these theological debates that only other theologians care about: the more I get angry, frustrated, hurt. How can we break free from this cycle?
I have no simple solution for this. The only thing I can actually say here is that each of us, by God’s grace, has a limited amount of resources and ability and knowledge, to do what we can, where we are, with reckless abandon. We cannot save everyone, nor can we fully “move the needle” on poverty and slavery and oppression, nor can we make even a small dent in all the injustice of the world.
But each of us have a part in our brief little time here on earth. Each of us participate in the divine nature, in the history of the universe, and each of us individuals are just the one endangered species of our own kind, who can do something in the world in such a unique way that no one else can do.
I think most of us will ignore that burning hot passion to do justice, and we’ll go back to Facebook and our phones and our planners and laugh it up. And maybe we do that because we’re afraid to face the horror. But I also believe that many of us are scared of our own ability, and that we actually can do something great, and we just don’t want the responsibility of such God-given power. I believe we are more scared of the light than the dark, because it is so much harder and more terrifying to do good than evil.
My friend, I cannot rebuke everyone for their lack of sympathy. I can’t yell on my blog to make others do something, or this will only be an external apparatus that forces behavioral change. I can only be changed by God myself and go do justice, and act justly. I can donate to churches in Iraq (which I did) and pray for the Christians and Muslims there (which I have) and raise awareness (which I could do more of). And if God does call you to become involved at the government level or to be a missionary there or to lead the charity efforts, then my friend, you are much braver than I, and I hope others such as myself will join you in every way that we can.
The hard part is not to get bitter. Not to get overwhelmed. Not to be distraught. Not to sneer at others. But simply do your part.
I pray you will receive this in a spirit of gentleness and love, because I want to encourage you and nothing else. You have a special burden in your heart for a certain people, and I pray you will find every way you can to be God’s instrument for them, and that others might join in your wonderful journey.
Godspeed and God bless.
I’ve donated to ChristianAid.org for their Iraq Crisis Appeal. They’re directly at ground level. Please check them out here.