Taking Action in Troubled Times
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. (Psalm 46:1-3 NIV)
The news out of Charlottesville, VA, this weekend was dire indeed—angry people marching under Nazi flags and shouting demands. Condemning them is necessary, but not enough. What can I do? What can any of us do? It feels overwhelming.
The news seems to be going from bad to worse, and we get a constant stream of it through any number of media outlets and platforms, complete with frenzied opinions. A few stories this week touched a personal nerve, as well, leaving me feeling both a little hopeless and a lot helpless.
That’s a good sign that it’s time for me to take a step back, a deep breath, and a look up. “I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from?” asks the psalmist. “My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1-2 NIV).
But once we overcome the fear, we still need to know what to do.
And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8b NIV)
We can make sure we’re treating the people around us as God would. We can take a moment to examine even more closely our treatment of refugees, people of color, and the poor or disabled. Are we acting justly, and more than that, loving mercy? Ask God to fill your heart with compassion towards those who are different from you. Be sensitive to his leading as you interact with people while you’re shopping, at work, taking your kids to school. Let God fill you so full of love, mercy, and grace that people notice.
Something that struck me anew about Micah 6:8 today was the command to walk humbly. Yes, we should be humble before God, but Peter adds, “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another” (1 Peter 5:5a NIV). The other day I posted a controversial article on Facebook, but with the caveat that I would only ask questions. Having promised not to rebut anyone’s arguments, I found myself thanking my friends for their comments. Wow! When was the last time I thanked anyone for sharing their views with me? That posture changed my whole experience with a post that could’ve been quite contentious (and which I later removed to keep it that way).
At a time when our nation is more divided than ever, how can we hope to reach people with whom we disagree? The one thing I don’t think anyone else is trying is displaying true humility: viewing other people as children of God, created in his image, and remembering that we’re no better or worse than they. In the same way that we can make people notice our mercy, they can notice our humility. That comes from the same place—being filled with the love of God. Only when we gain relational credibility do we deserve to speak into anyone’s life, and then I hope what we’ll speak is Jesus.
Abigail can be reached by email here.