Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Confessions of a News Addict

It's been hard for me to watch or read anything today without being filled with an indescribable sadness. I've been so disturbed by the tragedy at Virginia Tech. And while I have this desire to acknowledge the pain of those involved and attempt to articulate some of the emotion it stirs in me, I am at a loss as to how to wrap any words around it. This may be a feeble attempt, but here goes. While at the gym this morning, the story was on every single television screen, and I found myself jumping from channel to channel, trying to catch various pieces of the testimonies of those students who had survived but had front-row views of unspeakable horrors. Even though I was sweating from working out, my body still had chills all over it. It was the strangest thing. I eventually became so physically nauseated by the reality of it all that I had to jerk the earplugs out of my ears and not let myself look at the screens anymore. I think I barely avoided a meltdown there at the gym this morning. And yet I felt still sickened by my own tendency to just withdraw and not even take the time to look at others' pain. Our natural reaction is to turn away, think about something more positive, focus on ourselves really. Nothing could be further from God's heart. How will we ever be a part of Christ using us to help meet people's deepest needs and heal their hurting hearts if we refuse to even observe their pain, or worse, emotionally withdraw from it in such a way that we separate ourselves from the understanding of what people are dealing with these days? I felt so challenged today, Do I love those people, even though I don't know them? Am I praying like crazy for God to send those hurting souls comforters who will point them to His love and grace? I realized how normal it is for me to want to resist being affected by others' pain, and only when I'm walking in step with the Spirit do I feel burdened for those that I do not even know and am separated from by great distance.

The truth is, I watch and read a lot of news everyday. But when you commit to intentionally looking at the news from a biblical worldview, it is not usually a pleasant thing. It causes discomfort. It is messy. And it takes a whole lot of critical thinking to arrive at a perspective of truth on every story you see. It can be one of the toughest struggles to allow yourself not only to see the ugly stuff that is happening in our world but to soak it in for longer than a second, to embrace it long enough to actually carry some of the burden for somebody else. But the brilliance of the gift that God gives us to think critically and biblically is that we can gain insight into who He is and what He really has to offer the world. So while I will never say that it is easy to be an devoted observer of culture, the lessons God teaches through it are treasures. He has challenged and convicted me today, and I am thankful for the lesson on selflessness. In turn, I will force myself to view the pain in this world and continue to pause long enough to think about the brokenness and neediness only to the extent that I can see Christ and learn from Him through it. I'm thinking that God is very pleased with the process of our working through what we see, seeking to know truth in it and respond accordingly. I'm thankful that He can be known through all aspects of creation, even when it is a little messy.