A couple weeks ago, I made a trip to my parents’ house to celebrate the 4th of July with a nice homecooked meal (and since I didn’t want to be eating leftovers for the next while, I needed more than one person at the meal). While my dad was outside, my sister and I were working on the meal as my mom looked through some mail. We were chatting about different things and my mom was reading a letter from an organization defending religious liberty. She mentioned that 100-something people were killed in a horrible manner recently in a country in the Middle East. I don’t remember specifics. I just remember how I felt.
My heart ached. She finished her sentence and I asked if we could talk about something else…and then I just broke.
It was a build-up that I hadn’t even recognized emotionally. The feelings simply came in like a monsoon and I realized that it had been weeks in the making.
Essentially every time I read the news, I see stories of people dying. Whether it is a murder in my town or a suicide bombing half a world away, I am constantly bombarded with death, violence, and disunity. And it tears at my heart.
Through my tears, I tried to explain why I was crying. “I just can’t hear about death anymore. I hear about it all the time. And I can do nothing about it.”
Part of me felt that I was being extremely petty. Oh, Trish, how hard it must be for you to hear about death and violence. You aren’t living in a place where people are getting burned alive or crucified or killed by the dozens. Imagine living in it.
And the other part of me was just aching. I hear, day after day, about the death of fellow humans and I am unable to stop it. I can do nothing to stop people deciding that their best option is to strap a bomb to themselves and detonate it, hoping that they take out as many people as they can. I feel obligated to know what is happening in the world and yet it gnaws at my heart.
It is not simply what is happening on the other side of the world. Our country is continually up in arms about one thing or another. People are anti-Clinton. People are anti-Trump. People are fighting over guns. We are fighting over what it even means to be a human person or a man or a woman. People are furious over the death of a gorilla and the internet blows up about the death of a boy by an alligator, whether it is sorrow for the family or a critique of their parenting skills. A race battle and the battle against police claims news story after news story. So quickly we are severing connections with others and causing disunity and a lack of peace.
And it isn’t simply what is happening in the country at large. There is tension within my family, immediate and extended. You would think we would learn lessons from the mistakes of one generation, but the traits seem to be passed on. Money and pride seem intent on dissolving the ties of families.
And I can’t handle it.
That day, the emotional tension of weeks reached a breaking point. Because if I truly soaked up all that is happening in my family, nation, and world, I would need to just sit down and weep. It would cause me to despair and I am really fighting to hold onto hope. The upcoming election is being portrayed as the end of civilization, no matter which way it goes. I cannot handle spending the next four months and then the next four years in a constant state of doom. I have not the energy to launch into intense political debates because I’m simply trying to keep myself from feeling like everything, everything is falling apart.
This melancholic heart is naturally pessimistic and I’m trying to stay above the waters that threaten to drown it. Jesus is the Prince of Peace and He does not desire that I get trapped in the mire of worldly problems. And yet I live in this world and the plight of others should impact me. The balance is striving to keep the internal peace. And I haven’t quite struck that perfect balance of being compassionate without soaking up all the pain in the world.
Dallas. Baton Rouge. Paris. Turkey. The list continues to go on and on. Sheltered deep in the heart of Jesus is the only place I can find refuge. I cannot stop what is happening in my country and in my world. But I can seek to become the saint that God desires me to be. I am unable to bring about world peace, but I can share peace in my little corner of the world by seeking internal peace. The bigger problems I must leave to Jesus, because He knows I am far too small to tackle them. Instead, I will sit near the feet of Jesus and let the Prince of Peace reign in my heart.