I remember the spring of 2020, watching at the growing number of Covid cases and watching the news with fear. Reports of people dying, officials making decisions that I didn’t agree with, medical recommendations that felt like they changed hourly. It was a lot. I remember thinking, “Wow, it can’t get much worse than this.”
So I turned off the news and prayed. I prayed that God would keep my family safe, that He would heal this country, that He would protect His church. And you know what? God has done just that. Yes, there’s still sickness, but God has brought His people through this in a remarkable way.
But reading the news this morning, I realised it can get worse. I’ve been sitting here drinking my coffee and sick to my stomach as I watch footage of people falling out of the sky after desperately trying to flee their country by holding onto the wings of an aircraft. I’m watching mothers pass their babies to strangers to try to evacuate them. I’m watching people chant “Death to America!” and reporters saying it’s a mostly peaceful protest. I’m reading reports of people hiding in terror, of girls being pulled from their homes and marked as sex slaves, of women being beaten and suddenly fearing their husbands. And all the while, we Americans in the safety of our homes have the audacity to verbally tear each other apart and shift the blame between administrations so that we can somehow feel self righteous about the amount of suffering other people are feeling. Think about it, folks, there’s blame on all sides. War isn’t that black and white.
I am sick at heart. I feel nauseous every time images flash through my phone screen, each one full of despair and suffering. This isn’t the world I wanted to live in. This isn’t the world I wanted to bring children into. It’s hard to look at pictures of mothers throwing their toddlers towards barbed wire fences and not think, “Where are you, God?”
The answer is always in front of me. The answer is that He is here with us. The reality is that this is not the world I want to live in, but it’s not where I’m always going to be. The Fall brought in so much suffering and illness and death, brother against brother since Cain’s first murder.
It is so hard to preach peace and trusting God in the face of all this sorrow and horror. But I think of some of the letters from pastor’s I’ve seen coming out of Afghanistan. I think of how faithfully they are clinging onto God’s promises despite terror. I think of the early Christians, under threat of persecution. I think of the Israelites, slaves in Egypt. I remember how God is a faithful deliverer and protector of His people. This world is not the end. It will be renewed and there will be no wars, no illness, no suffering. Only the glory of Jesus’s face and the splendour of the King.
“Be anxious for nothing,” is pretty hard when you’re watching the world fall. I am anxious. I haven’t slept in nights. The world is coming undone and I feel powerless to stop it. But I’m not in charge of the world, I am only in charge of my heart response to it. So I’m on my knees again in prayer.
Protect Your people, Lord, and deliver us.