Have you ever wanted God to smite someone? After reading the news every morning, I desperately want to ask God to express some holy wrath. Even better, He could delegate it to me! I think the world would benefit from some carefully targeted smiting, and I know just who to aim at.
Too bad God doesn’t agree with me.
What has caught your attention in the last few months? Is it the pandemic—deciding if you should visit with friends, go to church, or even to the market? Is it your finances? Perhaps your income is jeopardized, and you’re worried about paying your bills. Is it politics? With the election drawing closer, everyone has an opinion, especially the news media. Or maybe you’re focused on the violence taking over our cities, the claims of white privilege and racism, and the threat of social assassination.
I admit spending an inordinate amount of time pondering all these issues. Too much time. If I’ve spent any time at all focused on God, it’s been on a personal level—introspection, prayers for health and safety for me and my friends and family, thanking God that I don’t need to worry because He is still in charge.
In my most recent post, I explained that the root of the turmoil behind the headlines isn’t about politics, the environment, morality, or social justice, but rather spiritual. Why are people so out of control? Why are they so filled with hate? If racism, white privilege, police brutality, or President Trump are to blame, why are minority businesses being looted? Why did Black Lives Matter run Seattle’s first black police chief out of office? From a purely secular viewpoint, nothing makes sense—unless you consider that Satan is behind it all.
When I look at what’s happening across the country, I see a common theme that for the most part has remained unnamed. The current news reports—of demonstrations, restrictions on free speech, increasing numbers of murders and other crimes, hate-filled rhetoric, accusations and “cancellations”—highlight symptoms of a far larger issue. Ultimately, it’s not about politics, or the environment, or even morality and social justice. The root of it all is spiritual.
Cancel Culture is big in the news this morning, as a number of liberal celebrities have signed onto a letter calling for an end to it. Of course, as soon as Harper’s published the letter, others started attacking it, which leaves us with people attempting to cancel a letter urging us to cancel cancel culture.
It’s in the news, and plastered all over social media. Everywhere you turn, the focus is on race. With a few unfortunate exceptions, people want to be part of the solution, but what exactly does that mean?
I’ve read numerous articles outlining how I, as a person of western European (and Jewish) descent, am supposed to respond. Most stress writing my politicians, speaking out on social media, and perhaps joining a demonstration. To me, that means a lot of talk, but not much productive action. I don’t want to just talk about racism, I want to do something that makes an actual difference for those who deal with it on a sometimes daily basis. In that light, I’ve come up with a few suggestions.
I haven’t written lately. Partly this is because I had nothing I felt compelled to say, and partly it’s because, as you are quite aware if you follow the news and/or social media, I worried that anything I did say could and would be used against me. After all, business leaders and other public figures are stepping down or being fired at an alarming rate for even the most minor “transgressions.”* Then, this morning I finally realized that I do have something to contribute to the conversation—something worth the possible repercussions. It’s time to post my two cents’ worth.
- From ABC7 News in California: “Reopening California: State superintendent says ‘We will not ask for schools to start until it is safe’”
- From GoAnacortes, in Washington: “The town photo, parade and patriotic program are canceled, and the city is postponing its community fireworks display until it is safe for larger groups to gather, ‘hopefully later in the summer,’ according to a statement Tuesday from the Mayor’s Office.”
- From the NewsReview in Charlevoix, Michigan: “Greensky Hill Indian United Methodist Church invites the community to continue practicing both physical distancing and social connection by continuing online worship, discipleship and fellowship until it is safe to gather in person again; and staying connected by calling and writing each other, especially those unable to connect online.”
- From the Montgomery County, Maryland .gov site: “Our team is ready to provide services and welcome the community back to our facilities, but we will not do so until it is safe,” said Director of Montgomery County Recreation Robin Riley.
- And it’s not just here in the US. Here’s a headline from the Glasgow Times of Scotland: “No return to work until it’s safe to do so says Nicola Sturgeon”
I understand the concern—we don’t want to encourage people to gather if it leads to some of them getting seriously ill, or dying, as a result. However, when did the lockdown become something designed to keep us safe?
Be careful what you pray for! It’s a well-known principle that when you ask God for patience, you can expect trials. When we tell Him we want to love more, He sends us the unlovable. And when you want to strengthen your prayer life, well, you can be sure that you’re going to have something to pray about.
One of my goals for 2020 was to improve my prayer life. I dared to ask God to teach me to be a better pray-er—to hear His voice more clearly, to feel His heart more strongly, and to pray with more faith and more passion. Please don’t blame me for a global pandemic, but I have to admit, we’ve all had plenty to pray about lately. Between the coronavirus itself and the resulting economic fallout, we could spend hours on our knees. God has our attention, and He’s taking full advantage. But sometimes, God aims closer to home.
What do you do when the answer is no?
Do you get frustrated? Angry? Do you feel out of control?
Lately, a lot of us are hearing no on a regular basis. No, we can’t go see our family or friends. No, we can’t go out. No, we can’t take that trip. Sure, we can think of things to do at home—try that recipe (if you can get the ingredients), tackle that project, garden, wash our hands—but we’re used to having the freedom to do so much more, and now we can’t.
It reminds me of other times I’ve encountered a lot of no’s.