this morning we woke up to the headline “The Most Devastating Mass Shooting in Modern American History”. for the past year (but honestly even longer) we’ve been waking up to headlines just like this one. headlines that we think can’t get any worse but somehow do. people across the world have been waking up to tragedy, loss, and terror. we’ve been walking around and operating out of fear. we’ve begun and ended our days with notifications on our phones giving us body counts, lists of names, and images of devastation and destruction. we have open access to websites that display charts and numbers of the places where mass shootings, terrorist attacks, bombs, etc. are happening in real time. and not only that, but we have to categorize the tragedies we face because these events can’t just be generalized as “attacks” anymore but have to have specific titles such as, “Mass Shootings”, “Bombings”, “Terrorist Activity”, “Terror Attack”, “Natural Disasters”, and the list goes on. it’s happening everywhere. it’s in our neighborhoods, our cities, our country, and beyond. we’re seeing it in France, Syria, Afghanistan, Iran, Germany, America, everywhere. it’s like we can’t get away from it.
so let’s be honest; it’s overwhelming.
so much so that I feel as though I am becoming totally desensitized to it all. like things keep happening and i have no control. i can’t stop them.
words such as helpless, unimportant, worthless, unable, and alone creep into my mind and i wonder if anyone else is feeling these words like i am. i wonder if my mom, my dad, the person who sits next to me in class, that girl on Instagram that i don’t really know but we both follow each other, or my next door neighbor is maybe feeling like this too. possibly feeling sad, upset, angry, and devastated at what keeps on happening every day, multiple times a day but also feels like their emotions and empathy are being pushed aside by the feeling of helplessness and are being suffocated by thoughts like, “i’m just one person, what can i even do to help?”. and instead of us actually connecting, taking time to react, and allowing ourselves to feel; instead of weeping with those who weep (Romans 12:15), even if only a sliver of our hearts can really feel the hurt that their whole heart may be feeling, we are actually paralyzing ourselves to it all by just accepting “the pattern” and moving on like it never happened. the ugly truth is that these are the things we’re letting rule our lives. our compassion is getting drowned out by despair, hate, shock, and politicization.
so as i was thinking about all of this today and as i was crying out (literally) to the Lord and telling Him, “i’m overwhelmed! i don’t know what to do! how can i make a difference!?”, He gave me a revelation.
it’s not about my ability… it’s about His.
see, my ability on its own to do anything is quite insignificant. but what isn’t insignificant is His ability to do things through me – the power He has to use me and my life as an illustration of His love and as an agent of change for Him in the world.
if you’re in need of a silver lining in it all, here it is:
all we need is a shift of focus.
to anyone who has ever experienced a burden or a tragedy that made you feel helpless, ashamed, incompetent, worthless, alone, or unable for any reason at all please know that all of those lies that the enemy tells you are completely eradicated, erased, and erroneous because of the cross. those feelings come when we place ourselves above Him who actually is the one with the greater plan and purpose for it all. because when we shift our focus from what we can do on our own to what HE can do and when we allow ourselves to have more faith in Him than in ourselves or other mortal people, is when we can realize that it’s only through Him that truly all things are possible. when we allow Him to rule over our hearts and minds and when we let ourselves believe the truth about His identity for us, we begin to release ourselves from chains of thinking that we, by ourselves, must or even can do everything. Let God be the power, allow yourself to be the vessel for Him.
it’s time that we let ourselves be compassionate. it’s time that we allow empathy to be a way we connect with each other. it’s time to stop swallowing our feelings and running away from our emotions. it’s time that we take a moment to stop, breathe, adjust our focus, and have the courage to continue in a bold new way knowing that God, who is above everything and has the greater purpose and plan, will take care of us and feels the burdens we feel tenfold.
but this is just the start. please don’t misunderstand that having compassion and empathy are just the beginning of a long journey. we first have to allow ourselves to be open and vulnerable in those areas of our lives in order to truly make a difference outwardly and be co-workers for the kingdom on earth. james 2:14 says, “what good is it, my brothers and sisters if someone claims to have faith but does not have works?” in order for us to be a catalyst for change, we can’t just have faith, we must also have action.
my hope for this post is that it would serve as a reminder to those who read it- as well as myself, whether you’re Christian or non-Christian, that our journey of love must start with compassion. don’t be afraid to let your hearts burn for those who are suffering and burdened, and then let your actions from then on illustrate that fire.
my heart is heavy for everyone who was affected by this tragic event in las vegas as well as anyone who has ever experienced tragedy or has a burden on their hearts. while i recognize that my heart may only know the tiniest fraction of what you are going through, i pray that we wouldn’t become numb or desensitized so much that we would not experience compassion.
Oh Lord, give us new hearts and new spirits. Remove in us our hearts of stone and give us hearts of flesh. ~ Ezekiel 36:26
here’s another blog post that i love in response to the events of today. I pray it would challenge you, as it has myself, to open up a bit more.
if this inspired you to find ways to help any victims of the most recent tragedies in the world here are some suggestions:
Donate Blood at the Red Cross
share your voice of course!