Bad news surrounds us. Turn on the broadcast news and there is tragedy and turmoil. Browse the newspaper and it’s more of the same. Read the news on-line and there are sure to be stories that’ll break your heart. It’s very easy to become discouraged. It’s very easy to feel hope slipping away. However, we were warned that this was going to happen.
And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. – Matthew 24:6-8, ESV
I know that’s not a very specific prophecy. It wasn’t intended to be. Jesus knew His time with His disciples was coming to a close. He would soon be going to the Cross. He also knew that His disciples were like the rest of us: they could be shaken by bad news. He wanted them prepared. He wanted them expecting bad news. Why would He warn them so? Quite simply, so that they could prepare themselves. That warning is found in Scripture so that it didn’t just benefit those who walked with Christ, but so that it could benefit believers throughout the ages. Jesus didn’t just want His immediate disciples prepared, He wanted us prepared, too.
The world is going to be unreasonable. Whether it’s a natural disaster, a man-made one, or simply the evil of mankind, we’re going to see tragic news. We must understand that these events are inevitable. With respect to the last two, we shouldn’t throw our hands up and say, “That’s just the way things are,” because we are commanded to try and make things better. In all three cases, knowing that such events will happen means we can prepare for them. We should have a thoughtful and ready response. We should have a way to act that alleviates suffering, that shows compassion, that demonstrates Christ’s love. We should not be surprised by suffering or left speechless by turmoil. Yes, it is reasonable to expect those things to break our hearts. We should not be surprised by them, though. After all, we have been warned that these things will happen. As the old saying goes, “Forewarned is forearmed.”
We can do this as individual believers and as part of the larger Church. We should do this as individual believers and as part of the larger Church. There is so much suffering around us that opportunities to put into practice the commands from our Lord are almost without number. We can and should be a voice of reason in an unreasonable world. We start by remaining reasonable. We must not be shaken by the terrible news that we can come across each day. Instead, we should prepare ourselves for it and be ready to meet it in a sacrificial and loving way. That’s the first step in being able to respond lovingly to our neighbors, both those living next to us and those living around the world.