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Not many mornings ago, I was feeling a sense of, well, I'm not sure what exactly: a combination of guilt, being overwhelmed, wondering what I could (or should) do about some pretty ugly and sad things happening in our world.
As many of you have, I'd seen some horrific news coming out of Afghanistan. At a humanitarian level what is or will be happening to Afghans, US citizens remaining there, allies of the US, Christians, women, and others who find themselves on the wrong side of the Taliban's naughty/nice ledger is appalling. The pandemic is still a thing with all of it's attendant suffering. An earthquake in Haiti had left hundreds dead and thousands more homeless and fearful. On top of these global things, a local acquaintance recently had to leave their home because it had become a physically toxic, uninhabitable place to live. His words in a text: "We are in bad shape here & struggling to hang on."
As I sat in my comfortable chair, in my air-conditioned home, bills paid, free to worship according to my faith and conscience, and relatively healthy, I had the feeling I mention above: overwhelmed, guilty, wondering what I could/should do. I suspect I may not be the only one feeling something similar (if not now, then perhaps under other circumstances you've faced). Here are some principles I think we can bring to bear at times like these. I'll divide them into two categories seeking to alleviate false guilt but keeping us on the hook where we should be.
Avoid false guilt
Don't avoid showing genuine, tangible compassion
This is clearly not an exhaustive list. Just some thoughts. Feel free to add yours in the comments here or on social media. The goal is not to leave us feeling neat, tidy, and unmoved by suffering. I hope we deeply sympathize with those who suffer. Then we want to funnel that sympathy into proper compassionate action without feeling needlessly guilty. If you're doing nothing, there's a problem. If you're overwhelmed with guilt about things beyond your control, there's a problem. As with so many things we need balance. God help us.
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