When I was younger, and not all that long ago too, I didn’t really care much for the news. It was all a bunch of people arguing over politics and one depressing story after another about natural disasters, wars, and heinous crimes. That description still suits the news today, but over time my perception has changed.
I first moved to Japan just after graduating from college and was surprised by how much people in Japan knew about American politics. More than once people assumed that because I was American, I must agree with all of President George W. Bush’s opinions. I quickly realized that I needed to polish up on my political knowledge if for no other reason than to knowledgeably say that I agreed or disagreed with President Bush’s latest political views. Fast forward a few years, and here I am in Japan again, trying to agree or disagree with a different president. Thankfully there’s more to the news than just politics or else I’d quickly grow tired of trying to stay focused.
Unfortunately, many people only care about what is happening in their own city, state, and country; that is where their concern stops. Living in another country and traveling to other countries helps me to see the people of the world as real, living and breathing individuals. Now when I watch or read about the news, I find it harder to turn my back on the suffering of earthquake victims, human trafficking hostages, or martyrs. Those are brothers, sisters, mothers, and fathers, not just statistics. So, what are we supposed to do with all the pain and suffering that is happening in the world? For starters, you can try to do what I do—pray your way through the news. Don’t just learn about a horrific situation and the next minute return to your favorite T.V. show or your previously scheduled life. Turn that concern over to God but also ask him if there is some kind of action that He is calling you to take. Why not start today with the current situation in Egypt? Instead of viewing the country as a whole, you can start by praying for my friends Stephanie and Paul Schick who are living in Cairo right now because Paul is doing his pastoral internship there. Or, you can pray for the family of Maria, a former student, who has family living in Egypt.
One of my favorite scenes in the book Christy, by Catherine Marshall, is when Alice Henderson explains the importance of letting God pry our hands away from our eyes. We can choose to go through life by covering our eyes to the pain and hardships all around us, or we can allow God to open our eyes so that we can see the people and the world around us the way that He does. Although Christy is fiction, Alice is exposed to extreme hardships and suffering which reveal universal truths. Alice says, “You want to know why seeing stark evil hasn't made me rough or bitter? Remember, I said it was God who was prying the little girl's hands off her eyes. As if He were saying, 'I can't use ivory-tower followers. They're plaster of Paris, they crumble and fall apart in life's press. So you've got to see life the way it really is before you can do anything about evil. You cannot vanquish it. I can. But in My world the battle against evil has to be a joint endeavor. You and Me. I, God, in you, can have the victory every time’” (Marshall).