Simply tune into the news and you know words are not lacking in today’s world. There are rising tensions in Gaza, a 6.0 earthquake in Napa Valley, the West Africa Ebola outbreak that is 6 months ongoing, a massive chemical spill in Mexico turned two rivers red, the atrocities and threat of ISIS, and the sobering CDC statistic that every 30 seconds in the United States another baby has been killed by abortion. If this were not enough to sober the heart there was also the recent news of Robin Williams suicide. It seems so contradictory that a man known for his exuberance and talent for humor could succumb to the pressures of his own internal pain. Which raises a question within me. Why is pain often so privately internalized anyway? Could it be that here in the U.S. we are masters of avoidance?
In lieu of all that is going on around the world today it was sobering to see Facebook’s current ‘top trends’. You would think that in the midst of outbreaks, hardships and unimaginable human suffering and violence these issues would be front and center on people’s minds. Instead, Facebook’s ‘trending headlines’ today are as follows: High School Student Gets In-School-Suspension for saying ‘Bless You’, the fatal shooting of a teenager in Ferguson, Grouper Eats Shark in One Bite, Man Fakes Own Death to Avoid Upcoming Wedding, Family Turns “Baby Got Back” into Back-to-School Anthem, and last but not least, the ALS Bucket challenge. How is that for avoidance? Words simply fail me. While the ALS Bucket Challenge has been wonderful in raising awareness for a serious disease and in and of it’s self is not a horribly bad cause, (though there are some organizations I would not donate a dime to due to embryonic stem-cell studies ) somehow dumping buckets of water on my head pales in comparison to the over 20,000 individuals now currently without water because of the recent chemical spill in Mexico. Mexico is not the only country with people in desperate need for water either. In fact, half the battle of Ebola is due to deeply impoverished nations that lack the necessary funds and resources to battle it. Africa is a bare-foot poverty nation. Literally. For the majority of Africa’s people, shoes are the exception. How does one stem an outbreak such as Ebola when most hardly even have funds for shoes? Then there is the issue of the Ferguson, MO debacle. I won’t take the time needed to go into it here but it struck a chord within me at the outcry for civil freedom and justice when around the world ISIS has been accused by the UN of mass killings. Minority groups are being desecrated mercilessly. Men, women, and children are being hunted, shot, and/or beheaded simply because they do not share the beliefs of ISIS. It’s hard for me to see how liberties are being stripped to this extent in the US and yet I realize that they very well could. My heart honestly is heavy and burdened. Burdened for young lives being lost and the mother’s whose arms ache for them today. Burdened for a group of young men in Africa known as the “Burial Boys” who have volunteered their lives to help those suffering from Ebola and have been outcast from their own communities for it. Burdened for an American doctor and his family that attributed his recovery from Ebola as a mercy of God and has received out-cries for making such a statement. More people would rather make it political than praise God for the miracle of lives saved rather than lost. Burdened that more do not seem to be burdened. In many ways, many in America have just tuned-out. There are days when I feel, and I include myself here, that it’s easier just to wear a mask of denial than face the harder realities of the world we live in. Perhaps it’s because I’m a mother now but this doesn’t seem to be an acceptable option for me any longer. I wonder at times what kind of a world, what kind of a society, are we leaving behind for our children? What lessons can be learned and what lessons need to be handed down in the face of today’s realities? What lessons are not even being heeded, and so can not be taught?
Today, despite all that could truly turn my outlook dark, I was reminded by two things. One is that there are still people out there who are truly kind. As my one-year old son and I were leaving the gym today an elderly man was entering. His walk was slow and he was enabled by not one but two walking canes. As I was attempting to open the door and teach my son how to open the door for the man the man just smiled and said, “what a wonderful morning it is isn’t it?” He looked at my son and remarked that if he had him as a neighbor he would enjoy having his energy around. And then he thanked us for our kindness. However if I were honest it was his words of kindness towards my son that I wanted to just hug him for. Maybe it was his gentle smile that reminded me of my own grandparents, or the fact that he could find something beautiful in a nearly 80 some degree early morning, or the fact that he was just so nice that won me over but it did remind me of goodness in the midst of a world that seems to radiate ugliness. Turning and reading Psalms 46 reminded me of yet another thing. God is still God. He’s still on his throne. He’s still over-all, in all, and ever-present.
God is our refuge and strength,
a very present[b] help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
6 The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
8 Come, behold the works of the Lord,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.
10 “Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
In the midst of earthquakes, outbreaks, wars and rumors of war, God is God. In the midst of brutality, injustice, deception and hatred God is in our midst. He is in control. In light of that reality I find words are not really needed. Instead, today, I choose simply to be stilled and to rest in the reality that God is God.