To My Beleaguered Friends
"When [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion on them,
because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd"
- Matthew 9:36
A friend recently posted about not posting about our contentious historical moment(s) because of our contentious historical response(s). Follow me?
Yes, it was not without some irony, but good wisdom had prevailed upon him. A mutual friend of ours warned it was probably a fools errand to expect any response other than the usual extreme vacillation of praise and rebuke the internet does so, um, well these days.
Would that we all have wise friends like this.
Who among us hasn't wrestled with the pressure to pronounce a kind of final judgement on all the idiots bumbling about in COVID-land? I know I have -- only to be cautioned into circumspection by my loving wife, by a friend who smells of smoke from his last run-in with rage posting, and my God who is exceedingly patient to listen. Slow to anger and speak. This is what He asks we model.
Indeed, it always seems to be the right time to share encouragement in Christ. And so in that spirit, I feel no twinge of guilt in sharing with you the thoughts I gave my friend after he announced his temporary vow of silence. Of all the words I could have written in 2020, these are the closest to the peace and encouragement I so often have received in the middle of my contentious moments. May you, dear reader, always find your passionate rest in Him today.
[Friend] You are most certainly not alone. Many here have echoed your expressions of social media-fueled battle fatigue. Our voices wait silently in the wings of all this drama -- not quite spectators, but not quite main players either. We cannot leave the play. Yet we are tired. We are unsettled, too. Will we have to go on stage? Where do we stand? What is our line? What do we do?
The last time I felt myself in the third trimester of a rage-blog pregnancy, I was all set to bring forth my eloquent dismantling of so-and-so over there. It was in the midst of my heaving intellectual contractions that God whispered to me, "That's some pretty good advice there, telling people to look to me first. So why aren't you doing that now?" And that's when I realized I was just...um...what's the way to say this right....just....constipated. Spiritually constipated. Whatever I was about to bring forth through pain and anguish was anything but *life*. It was not the product of love's expression between two people. It was just another online back-end evacuation of all the talking points I had digested over the past days, weeks, years. Stinky, too.
God showed me I had spent more time crafting the elusive erudition yet had failed to "post" my heart and mind to Him first, to anxiously await His response. I had succumbed to that most ancient of heresy: people need their fixin' from me, and that blogs/statuses/comments are all sufficient substitutes for the Holy Spirit to move people closer to God.
I know you know all this. Guess I just wanted to pontificate and commiserate. I am hopeful, friend, that if the Lord would allow us to see even darker times, then He would certainly shine out all the more. I think here of persecution's effect on the early church witness. As I've said elsewhere, it has only taken a few centuries for America to form a more perfect religion of the people, by the people, for the people. But God's Church has lots of experience with dark days. We know our task is the same. Because our God never changes. May we pray as fervently as we post for the illumination of the Gospel in the hearts and minds of our wandering "enemies".
And always thankful for your heart and mind, friend.