Now, look. I just had a baby. I know I'm tired and hormonal.
But is it just me, or are things seeming a bit bleak these days?
If you're like me, you don't need me to recite the world's tragedies... you know them already. You read them in the paper. You see them in your Facebook news feed. Ebola outbreaks, the genocide of Christians, suicide, mental illness, riots and racial fighting, incurable diseases, little kids battling cancer...
It can feel extremely overwhelming.
It can make you want to cry, and shut your eyes to it all. You feel so guilty, tense, powerless, and confused.
Where is God, exactly? What in the world can we do?
When I was in college, my professor said something really profound. Don't zone out here. This is really good. In fact even years later, it's stuck in my head.
Things are different now that we have mass media, he said. A long time ago, in Biblical times, even our grandparents' time, if you heard of something bad, you could help, because it was local.
If you knew someone was sick, or who'd lost their house in a fire or a child to sickness, you could help them, because they were nearby.
These days? These days we are literally flooded with tales of evil and tragedy. Even if we can help some of those suffering, we can't help them all. There are too many.
So we are left feeling depressed, cynical, and powerless.
Is there a cure? I think there is (sort of). Here are some things I've thought of to do - when you start feeling that tense, overwhelmed feeling with all that's going wrong in our world.
- Help the people in front of you. Really basic, I know, but do it. Who is suffering around you, that you know? Who that God placed in your life - family, church, neighborhood - needs a meal, a card, a hand? It sounds cliche, but when you feel overwhelmed by the bad in the world, do something good. Think of one person you can actually help, and do something - today. I think one thing my professor was criticizing about our modern culture is that it gets you in a mindset of not helping. Today, do something small.
- Think about good things. Okay, so again, I'm sounding cliche. But isn't it what God says to do? Whatever is good, whatever is true, right, noble, honorable...think about these things. In plain English, here's how you do that today: The Lord IS doing good things in our world; tell yourself these stories. Remember that miracle he performed in your family? Tell yourself that story again. Stop scrolling through the litany of tragedies and read stories like this one, about the baby they thought might not survive, but did, and this one you've heard, about how God saved the doctor's life, or even read my story from three weeks ago, when God answered my desperate prayers by a hospital bed. Think about good things.
- Stop in-taking and start up-lifting. Again, in plain English: When you have reached your "max" of hearing depressing stories, get off Facebook for the day, and refuse to watch the news. Instead, make a list of all the prayer requests you can think of. Write them on index cards if you need to. And then, pray through these things. Once a week I take the day off from the internet (read more about that here), and it is so refreshing. It's literally one of the best decisions I've made. And especially when you're on overload - step out from the noise, and spend some time praying for what you already know.
- Evaluate where you're spending your money. Sometimes our vague, negative feelings are just guilt speaking to us. Stop, and ask the Lord if there is a cause he wants you to get behind. Compassion International is a great one. Already have a child? Get another.
- Thank God for heaven. No seriously, guys. Don't glaze this over.
One day, there will be no burying our loved ones. One day, there will be no deep-sinking-feeling in your stomach from hearing about suffering brothers and imprisoned believers. One day, little ones won't die young, leaving heart-broken families behind.
One day, All Will Be Right.
We will be safe. We will be truly, and wonderfully, at peace. One day He will wipe away every tear, for good. Spread the Word, friends. It's Friday now, but Sunday's coming. It's dark out now, but morning's coming.
Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the negative noise? What helps you regain your focus?