This post has been brewing in my head for a few days. I have started and stopped it various times, but I keep coming back as my mind keeps mulling. One beautiful thing about writing is the way it helps process thoughts and works them out of the mind. I’m hopeful that wrestling with these words and drawing them out will be beneficial, both to me and maybe to you as well.
This week has been tough. Emotionally, very, very tough. Friday, Sunday, and Tuesday were all filled with unexpected, tragic events that have shook our nation. So many lives lost and so many families are now walking through a season unimaginable grief.
Though the suffering is not my own, this past Wednesday I broke. All the pain and unexpected loss overwhelmed me. I stood in my kitchen and felt the tears burn in my eyes as I read of Lane Grave’s body being found mere feet from where he had been playing. Those tears flooded down my face as I put myself in his parent’s shoes and contemplated the devastating mixture of relief to have found his body and despair knowing he is gone.
The call to weep with those who weep has been a steady thought in my mind over the past several days, and Wednesday I took time to just cry. After I gathered my emotions and tried to get back to taking care of things at home, a wave of thoughts came over me that were almost paralyzing.
How can I function in light of all the suffering in the world?
How can I put on a smile and interact with people knowing there are mothers in the world who will never see their children in this life again?
How can I write blog posts about happy and wonderful things when things are not happy and wonderful in the world?
How can I even consider moving forward with my day and my life when others are tragically facing the end of their own?
I spent time contemplating things and wrestling with how to answer these questions. I don’t know if I have the perfect answer or the perfect way to approach living in light of such suffering, but I did encounter some thoughts that have helped me to keep going.
When the temptation to fall into despair is strong, and when the troubles of the world want to paralyze you, acknowledge the grief and weep for the brokenness of the world. But then go, do the next thing, and hope in Christ.
For me, the next thing was to stir the rice and broccoli concoction cooking on the stove. But I didn’t want to cook! I didn’t want to take care of my family! I just wanted to go crawl in the bed and cry! But, instead of giving in to my emotions, I took the spoon and stirred. There were still tears, but I just did the next thing I had to do.
Unfortunately, there is no lack of significant suffering in this world. Every single day there are more reports of terrorism, brutality, hunger, sickness, and death. There is enough to keep us in a constant state of sadness, but we cannot be overcome.
When we are paralyzed by the tragedies and sufferings in the world and don’t do the next things that need to be done, no matter how big or how small, we render ourselves ineffective for the gospel. Imagine if every single person simply wallowed in grief when the stories from Orlando broke this week. No one would have stepped up to give blood for the victims of the night club shooting. Chick-fil-A wouldn’t have opened on Sunday to serve others. Crews of workers wouldn’t have searched for little Lane’s body. People wouldn’t have expressed love and condolences for Christina Grimmie. If everyone gave in to being overcome by their emotions there would have been no service to brighten the darkness of those terrible moments. When faced with the unthinkable realities of last week, people got up and did what needed to be done. People helped and served. People kept going. People lived.
And you know what? By doing so, we looked right at the darkness and brokenness and evil in this world and said, “You will not break us.”
Though it was NEVER meant to be this way, our world is broken. But, we cannot allow that reality to keep us from living. In midst of the brokenness we have the opportunity to be light. We have the opportunity to point to hope. We have the opportunity to say THIS WORLD IS NOT ALL THERE IS! We long for the country where there will be no more tears, no more suffering, no more pain. But, until we get there, let’s be proclaimers of hope.
I won’t feel guilty to share about true, good, and beautiful things. I won’t feel guilty to live. I will use every breath and every moment I can to show that even in this world, wrought with pain, there is still good to see and good to be done. I will do the next thing. I hope you will too.