Monday, November 16, 2015

Where does it hurt?

Deep breath, everyone. 
It's been a rough few days. Are you OK? Are your loved ones accounted for? I've seen through various social media sources (not always 100% reliable, I know) that we've lost over 115,000 souls combined in earthquakes in Mexico and Japan, suicide bombings in Beirut and Baghdad, and terrorist attacks in Paris since Friday, November 13. The hashtag #prayfortheworld has gained momentum in the last 48 hours. Lord, hear our prayer. 

As I read the news reports and President Obama's remarks about the Paris attacks, I held my breath and remembered my travels to Paris in high school. I tried to imagine how I'd feel if this had happened in my town, shattering my sense of safety. Or if I was a tourist or student studying abroad and didn't know how to get help or speak the language. What could I do, other than rely on the kindness of strangers? 

But as I watched my Facebook feed turn the red, white, and blue of the French Tricolour, I couldn't help but notice something was missing. Where are the flags for Beirut?
Where were they in April for Kenya? Or Japan? Or Mexico? 

I think most people identify with the French because they're white. We imagine they're most like us. We struggle to identify with those in the Middle East or Africa or Japan or Mexico. But that doesn't mean they deserve less of our prayers, attention, or air time. They are hurting, and we should both recognize and help to heal that pain. 

The evil we've seen in recent days is like an illness in the body. When healing illness, we often employ multiple remedies: rest, medicine, and therapy. I know we'd like to get to the root of all the things making our world ill, and there will be time for that in the days and years to come. But for now, we need to rest and heal. And that starts right here in our own homes and communities. I've learned that evil is contagious, but so is love. 

There is hurt everywhere. When people in far away countries hurt, we hurt, too. So let's be small and deliberate and weed out that hurt right here. Bake those cupcakes for your neighbor undergoing chemo. Encourage your coworker. Invite that new family in town to dinner. Pray. Hold space for both the hurting and those who feel the need to hurt others.

Where does it hurt? Everywhere. Let's be healers. Let's start right here. 

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