Having made a living for two decades by writing — often for newspapers — I no longer enjoy much of what I read in them. There is too much pain in the world, too much suffering. And every morning, the news confirms it.
In Iraq, the Islamic State is slaughtering civilians. In West African, the Ebola epidemic is spreading. In Siberia, the permafrost is melting. And I’m living in a small Maine city raising five children and wondering what to do about it.
This weekend my husband, Dana, and I took our youngest children — 4-year-old Asher and 1-year-old Ezra — for a walk in the riverfront park near our house. Overhead, the setting sun brightened the wings of a gull. The fast-ripilling water reflected the far shore full of trees.
And little Asher zoomed ahead on his bike, sturdy legs pumping up and down in all the glory of a boy flying over the ground.
The beauty was stunning, but I had a hard time enjoying it as I recalled mothers and children huddled on an Iraqi mountainside waiting for water. When I pictured unclaimed bodies rotting in Liberian streets and the yawning Siberian crater releasing massive amounts of climate-warming gas.
“It makes me so sad,” I told Dana as we stood on the dock overlooking a distant lighthouse, its beacon flashing bright in the descending dark.
“You can’t focus on that.” He gestured toward our sons. “Look at the beauty that’s right in front of you.”
“Yes, but when I see that beauty, I also see the danger waiting to destroy it.”
Later that night I read an update on the 33-year-old Samaritan’s Purse doctor, Kent Brantly, who’d contacted Ebola in mid-July while saving others from it. In his first public comments since arriving in Atlanta for treatment, this is what he wrote of discovering he had the disease:
“I remember a deep sense of peace that was beyond all understanding,” Dr. Bently said. “God was reminding me of what He had taught me years ago, that He will give me everything I need to be faithful to Him.”
In the midst of my pessimism and fear, Dr. Bently’s courageous words moved me to tears.
To be faithful.
This is the high standard for how a Christian should respond. And God has already given me everything I need to succeed.
To faithfully pray for those who are suffering.
To faithfully support those who are giving their lives to serve others.
To faithfully care for the fragile earth God gave us.
And as I do, God promises to replace my fear with His peace.
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful,” John 14:27.
What do you think?