Early in the morning I like to take a quick glance through the daily news. I say quick because lingering too long is not good for anyone. I also get news alerts on my watch so I can decide if there is a story I should pay more attention to. Sometimes they are harmless—a headline about Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor charming Bishop Desmond Tutu with his 5-month-old antics, for example. But more often than not, the news is grim. Shootings, threats of war, world leaders behaving badly, wildfires, drought, the earth’s climate malfunctioning. I could fill this entire page with more examples.
It’s easy to become desensitized to news reports, and breathe a sigh of relief that it doesn’t affect you or yours. But more and more I’m convinced that we can’t call ourselves Christians and remain unaffected.
We do offer our thoughts and prayers. We think and we pray, and we pray and we think. Good enough, right? But for believers, there has to be more to it.
We do need to think. We need to think about the mother whose son’s biggest concern was taking the SAT next week. Instead, he was gunned down on his way to chemistry class. We need to imagine, with God, that it was our child and feel her anguish.
To be the hands and feet of Jesus means we actually have to do something besides putting our hands together.
We need to think about what it would feel like to wake up one morning to see smoke in the distance and by day’s end have no home anymore. How would we cope if we lost everything in the span of hours? For every difficult story we must step into the shoes of the ones affected and cultivate more empathy. Don’t just feel for someone in distress—feel with them.
We do need to pray. When we stop to remember that people going through horrific circumstances are no different from us; that they are someone’s brother or sister, child or friend, we need to lift them up in prayer as if we’d known them all our lives. We need to try to feel a minute of their pain and plead on their behalf for God to give them all they need to face their current agony. We need to take them on board in our prayers as if all our lives depended on it. Pray for them without ceasing, as if we were praying for ourselves.
But then we need to act.
To be the hands and feet of Jesus means we actually have to do something besides putting our hands together. If we can, we have to find ways to involve ourselves in the effort of changing bad to good. No contribution is too small, no effort is too meager. As Jesus took the small offering of a boy’s fish-and-bread lunch and caused it to feed 5,000 hungry souls until they were satisfied, so can He take our sacrifice of time, money, or gesture of activism to bless someone in need and lift them out of their struggles. When we unselfishly offer ourselves to ease someone else’s burdens, Jesus Christ is honored, glorified, and, most of all, glad.
When that happens, we are exactly where we should be.
Wilona Karimabdi is an assistant editor of Adventist Review. She also edits KidsView.