A Groaning World

Our world is groaning. People are tired of being trapped in their homes and losing income and community. They’re grieving from the masses of lives that have been lost due to COVID. People are having to rethink how to do life and what the new normal looks like. 

Now, a different kind of hurt has grown a voice. A racial pain that has been silenced and shunned for eons now has their cries heard.  There’s anger, bitterness, and fear. People are lost and hurting in all cultures for various reasons. 

What do we do? Some say listen. Some say speak out. What is right? No one really knows, so we need to go back to truth. 

He has told you, O man, what is good;
 and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness (mercy/faithfulness),
 and to walk humbly with your God?” – Micah 6:8

This was in a time when the Israelites were going against God’s laws. They were acting unjustly to their own people and those around them. They were taking people to court for minute things rather than forgiving others’ shortcomings. They were boasting about themselves rather than staying dependent on God. Their pride had gotten the best of them. 

Jesus started His ministry to the Jews, but quickly turned to the Gentiles. He had a greater response with them, because they weren’t self righteous. They were looking for help, looking for a Saviour. As I shared last week, Jesus loved hanging out with tax collectors and sinners. Not with the self-righteous. He wanted hearts that were open and vulnerable. He wanted to heal and help those who were ready to receive it. 

Sometimes – most times, we can get lost in our own lives. We turn our ears off to the world’s cry for help. I don’t think we do it intentionally. I think that the more access we have to the world’s news, the more overwhelming it is.  There are so many in need. Our hearts for justice, the poor and needy get overwhelmed and we don’t know where to start or who to help. 

This is where listening to the Lord is so important. We don’t need to feel crippled or guilty for the things we can’t help with. We need to notice that the pain we feel is God’s love, righteous anger, and ache for His people within you. We need to lift others up and follow through with Micah 6:8. We may not tangibly be able to help everyone, but we can make a difference where the Lord gives us lead to help. 

I remember my heart breaking when I was in Haiti. It was the first time I was the minority. I couldn’t go anywhere by myself or do anything without permission, even in the compound. If I had, there was a very high chance I could have been kidnapped or raped. When they saw a white woman, they saw dollar signs, especially one so rare with red hair. It was an eerie and most uncomfortable feeling. If I had moved there, I would have had to live in a compound and had the Haitian women buy my groceries for me. 

In my eyes, I saw poverty everywhere. I saw emaciated bellies on little children. I saw hard eyes in a lot of older people and a “weight” on the shoulders of people in the cities. 

Yet, I saw so many smiles on people that knew Jesus, young and old in the country. They were full of joy serving Him. They didn’t know they lived in poverty because that was the normal world they knew. There was such an innocent beauty to that. They found joy in community and in what they did have. 

I was also frustrated at being labelled as rich by some of them. The ones who had watched some TV (those in the city) thought we all lived in huge homes, driving fancy cars, and living the high life. I had to explain to them that it wasn’t normal reality. Yes, we had a lot, but I tried to teach them not to stereotype us all as rich snobs. We still have homelessness in our country. We still have struggles, and stuff doesn’t mean that life is perfect. In fact, stuff can cause us to be blind and independent, and not look to Jesus for help. That’s where the enemy gets our culture most, in our self-sufficiency. 

I wept when I took a shower for the first time when I arrived back home. I felt guilty for the abundance of warm running water that we had. I didn’t know how to handle all that I did have. I felt crippled and lost.

Until my mentor helped my perspective change. She taught me to see what I had and be grateful for it; To count it as a great blessing from the Lord. I looked at my freedom, the abundance of convenient food before me, my health, needs, and wants, and I was grateful. 

Being in Haiti, I was like a Jew living in a Gentile world, taking in everything I hadn’t seen before. Instead of letting the depravity of everything cripple me, I allowed the Lord to teach me to love more. 

Most cultures in our world suffer. People in the far east deal with horrible persecutions. Many people in the Middle East and Africa live in fear or war, disease, and poverty. Hawaiians are frustrated that their land is not their own anymore. Irish people are still struggling and recovering from a battle started centuries ago. 

Canadians and Americans have a lot to be thankful for. We have had freedom for decades. Our economy and health care have been one of the best in the world. We have good homes. But we aren’t without hidden grief ourselves. We’ve had earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, mass shootings, homelessness, slavery, etc. 

All in all, our world groans. Every nation and culture are ravaged by sin. The enemy is out to seek and destroy all that he can while he still has time. I’d like to say that things will get better, but it says in the Bible multiple times that we are not to be shocked by any of this.

It is hard to understand how a good God could allow such horrible things to occur to man and to nature. However, we cannot lose sight of the character or heart of God. He allowed man to have a choice. Man chose to sin. Now there are consequences for that. Jesus Christ died to take authority from Satan. He has the ultimate authority. But until He comes riding on a horse through the clouds, we need to suffer through this. It’s an upside-down kingdom right now. 

But it will all come to an end. 

Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
 to the house of the God of Jacob,
that he may teach us his ways
 and that we may walk in his paths.”
For out of Zion shall go forth the law,
 and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between many peoples,
 and shall decide disputes for strong nations far away;
and they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
 and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
 neither shall they learn war anymore;
but they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree,
 and no one shall make them afraid,
 for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.” – Micah 4:2-4

We are to hope in Jesus and in the Kingdom that is to come. We are to live with His peace in our souls knowing that though the world is in chaos, He is still in control. 

Until then, we must be the salt and light to the world. We must be the hands and feet of Jesus. We must see every culture as equal and love the world as Jesus loved the world. Your life is not your own.

Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches.” – 1 Corinthians 7:17

Take some time this week to quiet your hearts. Unplug from the world for a moment and listen to the Lord. Ask Him what He wants you to do in this time. If you’re willing to listen, He’s willing to share. Be ready with open hands. Sometimes what He asks of you is far beyond yourself. Walk in courage and faith knowing that He’ll equip you to do what He’s calling you to. Then be at peace knowing that you’re doing what you’re called to do. I’m praying for our world. 

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