Blessed are the Appalled+ Oprah is Not Enough

Yesterday I walked through the terminal, eyes on every TV screen I could find.  I had been speaking at a church in Dallas over the weekend, and had not yet heard the news. From the time it took me to get from one concourse at the Dallas-Ft. Worth airport to another, I had heard the horrific reports--the attack in Nairobi, the church bombing in Pakistan, and these in the shadow of the shootings on our own asphalt this week.

 We are, all of us, appalled at the evil in the world this week, the suffering of innocents and fellow believers. That is, if we are the lucky ones. If we are the blessed. Blessed are the appalled, who can still ache and cry over carnage.

This is my worry, dear friends.  That evil and violence will stop shocking us. That I will see the gassed bodies of Syrians and the bloodied tunics of Pakistanis and the empty basketball court and I will not falter as I walk from one gate to another, as I find my window seat on the plane, fish  out my magazine and read Oprah’s tips on finding personal happiness and serenity, along with the hottest boots of the season and better ways to use eye shadow .  . . 

As I did. Precisely. And this is our dilemma.

How do we stay alive and human in a shrapnel-bloodied world and in a culture of 10,000 cameras and screens whose messengers stay awake for tragedy, who seem to thrive on disaster, who multiply and multiply whatever sad deeds are done to fill the hours and our houses with fear and death?

We weary of mayhem and the profit of those who announce it.

And so many times we are not aghast. We know that shedding blood is so very ancient and human: the first child born, in a world still fresh and vast, with room for all, angrily killed his pure-hearted brother. So it began, brother against brother, tribe against tribe, nation against nation. There is nothing new under the sun. Only the weapons have changed. And our ability to watch it all from our chairs.

Thousands of years ago the Psalmist wrote, “Why do the nations rage and the peoples’ plot in vain?”

How do we not grow weary with all this raging and plotting? How do we not turn away from the fallen child, the grieving mother? What do we do with our news-weary eyes and our compassion-exhausted souls?

Oprah and so many others tender this advice: “My number one spiritual practice is trying to live in the present moment … to resist  projecting into the future, or lamenting past mistakes . .. to feel the real power of now.”

But “now” only works if your “now” is good. And “now” only works for you. It’s not good for so many, for those in the news, for those of us watching the news, for all those living under burdens, history, crimes, absence and fear. 

“Now” isn’t enough. Nor has it ever been. This is not all there is.

Justice is coming. “Vengeance is mine,” says the Lord, “I will repay.” God is not mocked---what has been sown will be reaped. The innocent will be restored, the poor will be rich, the murdered will wear robes of white, the fatherless will sit on the Father’s lap, and explosions and death will be no more.

All this is coming. It’s not far away. The certainty of its coming, the knowledge of its reality changes our now. It widens our eyes beyond ourselves. It enlarges Time. Most of all, it emboldens the weary and weak.

Don’t turn away from the wounded, the mourning, the persecuted, though there are too many. Though it makes you sad. Let your heart be broken, as God’s heart is broken.

Whether they live near or far, as much as you are able,

see them.

Then place your hands on their trembling bloodied arms and usher them out to your closet of prayer.

God hears you, and lives are healed and freed because of it. Believe it.

And if they live nearby, go to their door and knock and enter and help however you can.   

Do not grow weary of doing good in this war-wrecked world.

Wage kindness.

Seek peace.


Don't Stop.

And you will unleash the mightiest power on heaven and earth . . .