We know that we must not give a blind eye to the broken world around us. But we also know that don’t have the energy to fix everything. So in the face of tragedy and disasters, what should be our response?
For some of us, praying feels like it is the least we can do. Isn’t there something more?
But we must start with prayer because it reminds us of who we are -- small, weak, sinful -- and who God is -- omniscient, almighty, holy. It is only when we are within this framework that we understand that we can neither fix nor comprehend all the suffering in this broken, sinful world. We call out for God, and only God, to bring people to salvation and to restore creation to its original design.
We also remember that prayer is both powerful and effective. During the time of the Kings, Elijah prayed that it wouldn’t rain, and it didn’t for more than 3 years. Then he prayed again, and the drought ended when rain fell from the sky. In addition, God heard the cries of the Israelites in Egypt, grew concerned for them, and then led them out of Egypt. He listened to them then, and he listens to us now.
So let us pray to our mighty God who hears us, has compassion for us, and fights for us. Let us ask God to hear our cries and see the suffering of our neighbors; to show us his grace and mercy in all circumstances; and to fight for the sick, the poor, and the afflicted.
For others of us, our sympathies start and end with prayer. We ask God to fix the problem, and then we go about our own day. But isn’t that such an empty gesture? James writes, “If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?” (James 2:15-16)
Prayer is an important action, but in light of this verse, perhaps we should look at how we pray. Do we pray for God to act so that we don’t have to? Or do we pray to ask God how we should act?
And when he calls us to act, (Deuteronomy 15:11, Proverbs 14:31, Proverbs 19:17, Luke 3:11, James 1:27), let us do so with love.
Let us go out and give blood, standing in lines for hours if we must. Let us go out and work with our hands, distributing resources and clearing debris. Let us give, and give generously, or at least exchange our morning latte for a donation. Let us call our politicians with our free cell phone minutes and ask them for policy change.
Let us not neglect our neighbors, but have our actions be in line with our prayers.
We’re all overwhelmed. The world is too broken, too fallen, and we feel defeated even before we begin. But there is hope, and not one that comes from secular optimism. But instead we have a certain hope that comes from our faith and knowledge in the victorious life of Jesus Christ.
Because Jesus is alive and we know that he supplies our every need, we can go boldly into the world, unafraid of giving away money or sacrificing our time. We are not controlled by politics or tribalism, but rather we are united under Christ, following him into the ruins of buildings and the aftermath of tragedies, shining his light for all.
And so brothers and sisters, let us not be a body that prays but does nothing. But neither let us be a body that acts without God’s leading. Rather let us be Christ’s ambassadors, sharing our hope in Him who died for this broken world and rose again so that we could live with him in his future kingdom that has no more tears, no more pain, and no more death.
Hannah Chao is a wife and a mom of two beautiful little girls. She is also addicted to Twitter. Hannah attends All Nations Community Church.