There is so much sorrow and misery and tragedy in the world lately, what with news sources and people posting things on social media one can quickly be overwhelmed by it all. While I strongly encourage prayer for various situations, and especially for the true Christians in places such as Ukraine, West Africa and Iraq, in all honesty, I don’t believe that the Lord would want us to dwell on these things. I have two reasons for saying this.
One is obvious: Philippians 4:6-9 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.
The other reason is because throughout Jesus’ earthly ministry we find Him only rarely talking about “current events”. Obviously He cared about people, but He seemed to focus primarily on those who were in front of Him at the moment. “God so loved the world”, but Jesus didn’t come the first time to set all wrongs right, and He didn’t even try. He came to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10), and He did that with all His might, so to speak. In essence we were commanded to continue that commission until He comes to finally set this world straight Himself. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be moved with compassion and pray for those in tribulation. We should. But it is not our focus nor our job to fix the whole world or save it from itself. Spreading gruesome photos all over the internet and even supporting organizations of doubtful reputation thinking that we’re helping doesn’t seem like a useful fulfillment of “the great commission”, as it’s called, nor of ministering to the saints. (Besides, I can’t help wondering if spreading the horrible photos doesn’t inspire some evil people to even greater wickedness, rather than inhibiting them. In some instances it seems more like aiding their evil cause than stopping it. It’s something to think about anyway.)
This poem by Annie Johnson Flint has been a real blessing to me on a number of occasions. It is such a timely and helpful reminder of where our thoughts should be focused in the midst of both our personal struggles and the turmoil of this present wicked world. It also tends to remind me that things haven’t gotten worse as much as we might imagine sometimes. She wrote this in the late 1800s, but her description of the world was just as apt then as now.
When I Think of Thee
When I think of just myself and my little cares,
Looming large and crowding close, hindering my prayers,
Of my weakness and my sins, I am sore depressed;
Weary, weary grows my thought; I can find no rest.
When I think upon the world and its many woes -
Hunger, misery and crime - how the long list grows!
Greed and hatred and unrest, strifes that never cease,
Weary, weary grows my thought; I can find no peace.
When I meditate on Thee and Thy works, O Lord,
On Thy strength and majesty, on Thy changeless word;
On Thy Steadfast faithfulness, reaching to the sky;
On Thy patient, watchful care over such as I;
On Thine everlasting love, high and strong and deep;
On Thy wisdom and Thy truth and Thy power to keep;
When I think of what Thou art and what Thy power has done;
When I number all the gifts given in Thy Son --
I forget the things that pass in the things that bide,
And my soul can rest in peace, fed and satisfied.
Annie Johnson Flint
This is a wonderful reminder of the blessedness that we can enjoy when we focus our thoughts in the right place. May God help us to do this.
Psalms 63:5-6 My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips: When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches.
Malachi 3:16 Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name.
Psalms 37:35-40 I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree. Yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not: yea, I sought him, but he could not be found. Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace. But the transgressors shall be destroyed together: the end of the wicked shall be cut off. But the salvation of the righteous is of the LORD: he is their strength in the time of trouble. And the LORD shall help them, and deliver them: he shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in him.