It often seems as though our world is completely falling apart, or turning to pure evil. Every day we wake up to disturbing and horrific news. There are stories of parents starving their own children, teens murdering their parents, and people vanishing from the streets daily due to kidnappings.
Because I work at a church, I hear many heart-breaking stories of illness, abuse, violence, and addiction. I have friends who have lived through the unimaginable, and I meet people regularly who have either gone through horrific experiences or are currently enduring them.
Then this week there was another bombing attributed to terrorism. This bombing took place in Manchester at an Ariana Grande concert, a building filled with children, teens and families.
What is happening?
Today there are so many places that were once considered safe places that no longer are – elementary & high schools, airports, churches, universities, entertainment stadiums, and the list goes on.
Today, nowhere is truly safe.
How can this be?
With all of the bad news we are bombarded with daily – in the newspapers, online and on TV – don’t you want to hide under the covers in bed some days?
Do you sometimes feel like just giving up?
I know there are times I do.
But then I hear the counter stories of all of this terrible news. There are the stories of the people in Manchester who immediately opened their homes to those displaced after the concert bombing. They welcomed strangers who couldn’t immmediately find friends or family members who were with them at the concert.
How beautiful is that?
Other times when I am ready to give up, I get the honour of witnessing an act of pure love, kindness or generosity.
A woman who has been ill and just received some terrible news from her doctor comes into the church sobbing. She is immediately embraced by two female pastors and a compassionate volunteer who comfort her and pray for her. By the time she leaves she is filled with hope and joy, and a wide smile covers her face.
In July I am going on a mission trip, and last night the team had our big fundraiser. It was an amazing example of the generosity and kindness of others. It was not just the generosity of those who attended the fundraiser and bid on auction items that blew me away, but the generosity of the whole community with donations they gave to include in our two auctions. Many of those who donated had nothing to do with our church or our mission, but gladly offered what they could. Then there were the many volunteers, aside from the team members, who gave their time and energy to help organize, set-up, prepare food and clean up for the fundraiser. We also have people consistently offering financial donations, so our team of 14 people can travel to spread the love of Jesus.
How incredible is that?
It can be easy to become discouraged by the many devastating things that are happening in our world. The news and stories are shocking and heartbreaking, and can be too much to bear. There are days I purposefully avoid the news and certain websites because I can’t handle another sad story.
Instead of getting weighed down by the bad, we need to switch our focus.
We need to focus on the good.
We need to peacefully stand against the evil, and we need to do it together, hand in hand.
I firmly believe there is more good than bad in this world. I whole-heartedly believe that the love outweighs the hate in humanity.
So let’s focus on the love.
Let’s refuse to stand for the hate.
That does not mean attacking in retaliation. It does not mean banning or abusing the Muslims in our communities because the terrorist groups claim to be acting on behalf of Islam.
Before condemning all because of the acts of few, take a moment to learn a little about the Muslim faith. I don’t know a lot about it, but I do know it is a religion of peace.
These terrorist groups are not true Muslims or working in the name of Islam.
So don’t turn on your Muslim neighbour and add to the hate.
We are angry about these acts of violence. Our hearts are broken, and we want justice for those who lost their lives or were injured.
But anger is not the way to respond. Although it feels natural, anger and hate will never win.
Let’s respond in love.
For those who, like me, are followers of Jesus, remember his teachings. He said to love our neighbour as ourselves. He sad to show grace, kindness and mercy. He asked us not to pass judgement on others, but to love our enemies. He asked us to go in peace.
Be like Jesus.
There are many examples of love, compassion, unity and kindness out there. Find them and use them as strength.
In times of struggle and strife, be the first to reach out a helping hand.
Be the love.
There’s a song by Cee Lo Green and Christina Aguilera that is one of my favourites. The chorus repeats “Turn up the love. Turn down the hate”.
Let’s turn up the love and overcome the hate.
Because love will always shine brighter.
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