As I walk the land (a country in Middle East), negativity can easily creep in. When I speak to the locals today, I am confronted with countless problems. From the recent currency devaluation, to sharp decline in tourism and the consequent economic difficulties, to unaffordable education, to environmental problems, to mistrust within society – this list could continue for much longer. When locals share their concerns with me, they seem disheartened. They seem so disheartened that a great number of them do not want this future life to take place in their country anymore. Or at least they don’t think that a decent life is feasible considering the opportunities they are provided with. Their hope has diminished and to most of them, they do not believe that they are able to solve their problems anymore.
Having knowledge and insight into such a situation and feeling helpless to act upon that information is one of the most frightening feelings I experience. It makes me anxious, even pained.
Jeremiah 4 describes an experience like this: “My heart is restless within me, I cannot keep silent, for I hear in my inner self the sound of a horn, the alarm of war. Destruction on destruction is proclaimed, for all of the land is devastated. How long must I see the banner, and hear the sound of a horn? ‘For my people are foolish, they have not known me. They are foolish children, and they do not have insight. They are skillful at doing evil, and they do not know how to do good’ ” (Jer 4:19–22).
How should I react in moments like these? Where it is a common sight to see a young child in soiled clothe, tired, roams from train to train to make a living at morning peak hours when he is suppose to be in class receiving an education. When repeatedly youth shares his dream but looses hope, crushed by the poor education system. How should I operate under these circumstances? When community initiatives and small businesses are constantly impacted by political and economical instability. Where the spiritual climate is not producing positive ripples from His truth and presence. There are no simple answers to these questions. But what is certain is that I must depend on God and His provision over our lives. I must look at the coming storms in my life and the lives of others and recognize that God will be at work (and is at work) regardless of the difficulties I encounter in the process.
Like Jeremiah, I must speak up, but I must root myself in Christ as I do so. As Paul writes, “As you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, live in him, firmly rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding with thankfulness” (Col 2:6–7). I must thank Christ for His work in me and live as He has asked me to live. If I am called to tell others about the ramifications of their actions, I must always be motivated by Christ’s love. For as the book of Proverbs tell us, “A gossip walks about telling a secret, but the trustworthy in spirit keeps the matter. Where there is no guidance, a nation shall fall, but there is safety in an abundance of counsel” (Proverbs 11:13–14).
Lord, let my counsel be godly counsel. Let my words be truthful. Let me be guided by You in the events I can change and those that I can’t. And let my actions proceed from a posture of thankfulness and love.