Don’t fear, because I am with you;
don’t be afraid, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
I will surely help you;
I will hold you
with my righteous strong hand.
Ten years ago, I went on a trip to the Holy Land. It was part mission trip, part pilgrimage to see the Holy Sites. We worked with the Palestinian people – Christians and Muslims in a high school, a preschool, a senior center, and other sites. We met people on the streets of Bethlehem. Today I wonder if any of those young people we met were involved in planning or carrying out the attacks or if any of those people we met were killed in the attacks.
On June 8 of this year, my husband and I went to Hawaii and spent some time in Lahaina. It is a beautiful place. We met many nice people. I have a great panoramic photo of the Banyan tree in the center of town. On August 8 I wondered if any of those people perished in the wildfire that destroyed a large part of that wonderful town. I know several of the places we visited survived, and several did not. The United Methodist Church was a very cute old building and as we know, it was destroyed.
Just this past weekend there was a shooting that killed one young person and injured 8 during a private event at a community center in my town. I have done some work there after a flood damaged their basement. The community center feeds people every day at lunchtime – everyone is welcome.
Does this feel like too much? It does to me. Just having these touchpoints with these horrible things is overwhelming, and nothing is directly happening to me with any of these incidents. Day to day the news can be more than we think anyone should have to bear. The beginning of this verse tells us not to be afraid, something that is said over and over in the Bible. The world certainly can be a scary place and without the Lord holding our hand and giving us others to hold our hand, we can certainly be paralyzed with fear. This half-truth that we don’t get more than we can handle and the first one about everything happens for a reason seem to go hand in hand. We become overwhelmed, but we do have a God who will help us and go with us – whether that is through a friend, the church, or just feeling the presence of God in these situations. I certainly would not want to deal with all of these swirling thoughts in my head about the news every day on my own.
by Janet Waryck
For Pondering & Prayer
Are you a news watcher or a news avoider? What gives you comfort in those times when the news seems to be overwhelming?
Prayer: Dear God, help us to reach for your hand or the hands of others that you give to us to get us through the periods when we feel overwhelmed with the news of the world. Give us strength to help those in need as we are able. Amen.