There are times when all seems hopeless. Darkness and despair have us in a choke-hold. The earth itself groans in pain, and it’s inhabitants join it in a discordant chorus, like wounded in a M.A.S.H. unit at the front lines – victims of heavy artillery fire. Simply breathing takes all we can muster.
Where is our hope? Where is our salvation? Does anyone hear our cries? Does anyone care that we feel such pain?
My sister’s two oldest daughters discovered this Spring that they were each expecting their first child. The first was discovered to be a girl, who was due at Christmas; the second, a boy who was due shortly after the New Year. A combination of exciting anticipation, and anxiety, accompanies news like this. What will it be like raising children in these troubled times?
I imagine that every generation asks the question, “Do we really want to bring a child into this wretched place?” Life gets easier and harder at the same time. Technology is amazing. But how can we protect our children from all the evils that exist?
I don’t get cable, or satellite, television channels. I haven’t for over 2 years now. All I can pick up are a few local channels by way of an antenna. Therefore, I don’t watch the news. And I don’t miss it. I also dread public waiting areas where I have to endure a long stretch of “news”. All the negative weighs on me. There seems to be no lack of arrogance as those “in the know” tell the rest of us what we should be mad about. It would be too much for people to think for themselves, I suppose. And what we should be mad about depends on the network we subscribe to.
However, in this manic-media age, it is nearly impossible not to be exposed to a great deal of ominous information as to what is transpiring in our world, whether real or imagined. Shootings have become commonplace in our neighborhoods, schools, and homes. Not even churches are exempt. There seems to be more devastating storms, industrial accidents, terrorism, and wars too.
Worse, though, we seem to be short on compassion, and high on vitriol. I see Jesus dropped like an A-Bomb on the “enemies of Christianity”. I see people claiming that everything that happens is racially motivated; and people denying their own racial prejudice. I see people on the left and the right, firmly entrenched, lobbing verbal grenades at each other, leaving a vast chasm between them where the “sellouts – who won’t take a stand” protect each other from shrapnel as they try to prepare a table for all who will join them for a meal.
People in pain and frustration act out in ways that will never heal their brokenness, but instead send more broken in need of repair. They will not bring justice to those denied it, but deny it to many others instead. They cannot end their grief, but cause it for many more. Their actions are counter-productive.
Often-times they act out because they feel oppressed, and feel that no one hears their cries. We fail them when we refuse to acknowledge their pain simply because we cannot feel it from the safe distance from which we stand. No, we don’t grant permission to act uncivilly, but we should at least acknowledge that our experiences limit our ability to empathize with them. They (and we) need someone capable (and willing) to walk with us, and share our pain.
While considering the events of Ferguson, MO today, and the tone of opinions being expressed in social media over the last few days, I saw a post on Facebook from one of my nieces. She had been in and out of the ER for the last few days, and they had decided to bring her daughter into the world about a month early. Thankfully, my sister (grandmother-to-be) continued to update the thread. My nieces baby was born by C-section at 1:00 PM today, and weighed in at 5 lbs, 6 oz. Mother and baby are both doing well.
As we enter into the madness of the Christmas shopping season, and consider the chaos in our world, let us reflect on this…
When those who were oppressed and hurting, and despairing of hope, cried out in their pain and frustration, wondering if anyone heard their cries of anguish…, a baby was born.
Oh, and my new grand-niece’s name?
As I wrote this, I was reminded of a scene in the movie, “Children of Men”. Humankind had been unable to bear children for about 20 years, when a woman was discovered to be pregnant. A group of people hid her and kept her safe. The child was born in the midst of war. And the baby began to cry. As the child’s cries were heard, the gunfire began to cease. Soon, the battle quieted, and only the cries of “HOPE” could be heard.