Dear Church Family,
Does anyone else feel like it’s been a horrible month in the midst of a horrible year? My family had settled into a family movie night last night when we paused for “bio-break”. My daughter said from the kitchen, “Uh oh. There’s been another shooting.” My heart sank to the floor. We had already had conversations with our girls at dinner just that night about racism, misogyny, gun culture in America, and Christian nationalism. I don’t know about you, but I am finding it all hard to process.
I would like to share with you five thoughts that I have about how to respond when there is so much chaos, bad news, and so many complicated issues swirling around us.
1. Don’t give into fear.
The media machine runs on fear. The more shocking the headlines, the more readers or viewers they get. So as we consume the news or information from any media source, remember that we do not have to be sucked into the fear.
Everyday presents an opportunity to trust in God who is sovereign and in control, not in earthly circumstances or political leaders. As 2 Timothy 1:17 says, “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
In John 16:33, Jesus said this: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
He knew that we would face all kinds of trials in this world. Yet as believers, we can have peace because of Jesus. When we buy into fear, we are not living in the peace that God has offered us.
2. Be informed, not apathetic
In times of crisis, there is information coming at us from all kinds of channels: social media, news outlets, friends and family, etc. It’s hard to know what to believe.
And as tempting as it is to bury our heads in the sand and pretend nothing is happening, I strongly encourage you to spend some time becoming informed about what is actually happening. That means going to trusted sources (and a variety of sources) rather than relying on shared social media graphics or news sources which are solely coming from one particular perspective.
Sometimes, keeping up with what is going on around us can feel like drinking from a fire hose and we experience “care fatigue”. If you experience this, take a break and let your heart and mind catch up. If you find yourself being numb to the suffering of others, you may need to stop consuming news for a while so that you can process with God enough to remain in a place of soft-heartedness.
I know that you have heard this one before and we talk about it a lot but, (can we all be honest?) it’s really easy to fret or be outraged but to not pray. What you really need to do is to pray. Pray alone. Pray with people. Pray simply, honestly, slowly or quickly or in tongues or your heart language. Pray while brushing your teeth. Pray at the start of the day or at any point in the day or when you get up at night to go to the bathroom. If you have not yet attended an online prayer room, please do so. (https://pavineyard.org/prayer-rooms/). Whatever you do, don’t just hold in fear or anger without going to God with it. That won’t help anyone, especially yourself.
4. Refrain from judging other people
This is a big one, friends. I have seen so many posts from Christians and non-Christians alike casting judgment towards anyone who is dealing with these various crises in different ways than they are.
It’s unwise to cast judgment on a fellow Christian (or non-Christian) and imply that they don’t have enough faith or they aren’t acting in love because they are approaching the situation differently than you are. So please, just don’t do this. Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that we see or feel everything rightly– because we don’t.
“But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.” – Titus 3:9
5. Support those affected by crisis
A good alternative to despair, anxiety or judgment of others is to reach out to people who are being more directly affected by hardship or crisis than you are:
- Reach out to someone who might be feeling greatly burdened about the recent shootings
- Buy from a small business owner and leave him or her a note of support
- Think about who may be quietly struggling in your work context and send them a supportive email
- Offer to pray for someone when the Holy Spirit prompts you to
Finally, I wanted to let you know that I have signed this statement and agree with all that it contains. In doing so, I am not suggesting that everyone in my church agrees with it or with me. But I want you to know that I, personally, believe that we are in a time of racial reckoning in our country and that amplifying unified Christian voices is a good thing. I am greatly encouraged by the momentum of Asian Americans who are calling out for justice. I welcome any thoughts, questions or initiation of dialogue.