By Vanessa Rasanen
The world sucks.
Now, this is pessimistic and a bit debbie-downer-esque of me, but some days this is the thought running through my head – a thought I can’t seem to shake. I read story after story of evil and sin, tragedy and heartbreak. Babies being murdered every day. People fighting to dehumanize those babies. Children being hurt and killed. Women being sold into slavery. So many people dying, starving and suffering. Every day there’s another new story or two that has me with one breath cursing the world and all the evil within it, and with the next breath praying for Christ to return so it can all… just… stop.
We often feel helpless in the face of such evil — especially when it’s happening so far from us and is so much bigger than us. What can we do to save the millions who are murdered before their first breaths? What can we do to stop human trafficking, genocide or terrorism? What can we do to feed, cure, heal and comfort the millions and millions of others in need?
This probably seems ridiculous for me to write about this. Here I am sitting in my cushy, cluttered-with-so-much-stuff home, my family with their bellies full and my smart phone charging. I have a beer in my hand (okay, next to me, since I am typing with both hands) and my husband safe beside me. Life is good for me, and yet here I am complaining about how hard it is to live knowing how bad it is for everyone else. The nerve, I tell ya.
But empathy doesn’t require identical suffering. Remorse and grief for others don’t require first-hand experience. We hurt for our neighbors. We weep for them and ache for them — even those we don’t know and will never know. Ridiculous or not, this weeping and hurting for our neighbors can sometimes leave us frozen in despair, desperate for the end when every tear will be wiped away and every ache will be soothed.
Then we look around at our messy, but warm, homes, the pile of dishes or laundry, the bickering children, the stress at work, the drama with the in-laws, the hurtful comments online or any number of other minor first-world-problem-grievances. We pause, unsure of how to tackle the seemingly insignificant struggles in our lives when so many bigger problems exist elsewhere. So we sit, frozen, unable to focus on the duties before us that appear to matter so little in the grand scheme of it all.
The fact is, though, most of us have not been given the vocation to tackle these bigger problems. Most of us are not called to address the greater evils and sins of our fallen world. And that’s okay. Instead we empathize however we can, mourning and weeping for those who hurt. We pray for them. We pray for their pain to cease, for their lives to be spared, for their souls to be saved.
We must balance this with our service to those who have been put in our care — our family, our friends, our community. How easy it can be to fall to one side or the other, either getting so wrapped up in our own junk we cease to notice the plight of others, or focusing so much on the tragedies elsewhere we fail to live out our vocations as we should.
Sin and evil exist. While we may not face the worst of it in our lifetime — and I pray we and our children never will — we hold to the truth that all evil, and sin of every degree, has already been triumphed over by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He has, with His death and resurrection, claimed victory for us over Satan and sin. Suffering continues in our present time, and we are left to wait for the end of all tears and pain. But we are not alone. We have a God who not only conquered evil for us, but also comes to us here, now and always with His Word and His very body and blood to offer us comfort, yes, but most importantly to offer us forgiveness and salvation.