By Erin Straza
One look at the world tells us something is desperately wrong.
Disappointment. Violence. Betrayal. Depression. Sickness. Cruelty. Poverty. Hunger. Crime. Injustice. War. Racism. Mental Illness. Death. Divorce. Loss. Accidents. Gossip. Slander. Weariness.
We see what’s happening around the world and around the block, and we scarce can take it in. Just within our own small circle there’s plenty of heartache to deal with, plenty to drain the heart dry.
I’ve felt this way—dry, tapped out, unable to muster even one ounce more of compassion for a world heavy with need. That’s when I pull back and hunker down in an attempt to limit what I see and know and feel.
It may sound reasonable, but really, it’s a defense mechanism. It’s a subtle form of apathy that convinces me to disconnect from people in pain. I disconnect to avoid feeling the fullness of despair of this broken world. As a woman, I know that God has created me with great capacity for caring.
And I’m scared to feel it.
Robert Pierce founded World Vision in 1950 after travelling to China and seeing widespread hunger and poverty and pain. It overwhelmed him. He took in the pain of the people, unwilling to keep it at arm’s length to protect his own heart from feeling. It is said that he was quick to pray with a passion and flood of tears that arrested others. He wrote this prayer in his Bible: “Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God.”
What if we followed Pierce’s lead? If we are going to be the hands and feet of Christ to a world in need, we will need to pray and act as Pierce did:
Open your eyes
First, we need to get brave and ask God to show us what’s really happening in the world. The enemy coaxes us to turn a blind eye to brokenness, using familiarity and apathy to keep us from seeing the truth (see Matt. 13:13–15). Ask God to peel the scales from your eyes to see the people, the places, and the programs that are broken.
Open your heart
After seeing the broken state of the world both near and far, we could be tempted to shut down inside. Don’t. God draws near to the brokenhearted; He doesn’t abandon them (see Isa. 49:15–16 and Ps. 34:18). Keep your heart wide open, joining God in mourning over the state of His beloved world and creation and creatures.
Open your hands
Now that our eyes and heart are open, we can learn how God has designed us to help (see Eph. 2:10). Don’t race about trying to do everything—instead, ask God to show you how He has equipped you, specifically, to be His hands and feet. Ask God to make you His conduit of comfort.
What if we did that?
We would be broken, yes. But in our brokenness, we would become more like the God who makes us whole.
Erin Straza uses her love for words to help women experience God’s redeeming, restoring, and resting love found in Jesus Christ. Working as a freelance writer and editor, Erin helps organizations tell their stories in authentic and compelling ways. Her writing life takes place in central Illinois where she lives with her husband, Mike. Follow her on Twitter @ErinStraza.
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