A World In Flames: Hope For The Discouraged Heart

I’m supposed to be working on my book proposal, on a manuscript that is stretching me beyond my comfort and ability, but I’m not. I’m sitting here, being torn in a million different directions. Heart heavy from the world at large and the niche I call mine.

My writing sisters Aleah Marsden, Sarah Wilson and others like Ann Voskamp have already penned my heart, but I’m hampered. I too must write-through the intersection of faith and pain.

Like many, the assault against Christians from the knives wielded by ISIS members last Sunday has left me present but distant. Actually, I’m still numb from the first slaying and I can’t help by recoil deep into the sacred space of my heart, into a state of prayer for my brothers and sisters facing life and death decisions; for the wives, mothers, children, too old to fight elders left in the wake of these slaughters.

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The news still fresh, everywhere I look, the only distractions I find are equally burdensome. From the courageous work of my Redbud sisters fighting against sex trafficking, fighting for equality within races and genders these women are giving a voice to the daily victims of a different type of lethal knife. And while raising awareness and taking action are where change takes place, my once optimistic heart faces the reality:

Today’s victims are still suffering.

And my heart aches.

Severely-Neglected-Children-Develop-Brain-Damages-in-Early-Years

The cry of the suffering abroad can be drowned out by the brokenness we see daily in our community. From the neglected child being taken from one foster home to another, to the families lining up outside the food bank because they are unable to buy groceries after paying the mortgage and utilities, to confused teens trying to sort fact and fiction regarding sex and sexuality…..you can fill in a dozen more without much thought I’m certain.

My finger isn’t on the every pulse of current events, I’m far too weak to constantly be caught in the shrapnel of this world, the byproduct of what people call progress. I’m acutely aware the “gloom” isn’t going to go away and for my tender heart, that’s overwhelming.

Now, more than ever, kids need parents to lead them spiritually by example, to teach them a way of life that will cost them more than we can imagine to live out in their future. The security and stability I naturally want for my life, for my children and their children cannot be provided in this world. I know the sooner I accept this reality and cling to Jesus’ words of love, truth and hope the more fully I’ll be able to live in His security and stability that cannot be taken or shaken.

But I feel small, too small to carry out the task.

There’s a disconnect and the fears of today drown out the gentle voice of my Savior calling,

“Come to me, I’ve got you.”

I find myself going through the motions of the day like a well-programmed robot. And it’s like that, a shiny metal exoskeleton holding me up, when I’d otherwise collapse by the weight of our world.

My sensitive heart is overwhelmed with everything and nothing to do all at once.

Sometimes I attempt to watch a show for reprieve.

“Will you find something that will make me laugh?” I beg my husband.

Twenty-three minutes on Netflix provide a shallow reprieve and like removing soothing ice from a burn the pain instantly returns.

Ridiculous photos like this show up in my Facebook news feed and the fighter in my heart is aghast-

“Who in this world has time to dress a dog like that let alone two?!”

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Then there are those Candy Crush invitations and high scores announcement and I cannot understand why and who cares when the world is going up in flames. I assume this is the legal numbing agent the masses consume to escape the fierce world.

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But I stop and wonder, why not?

Jesus was very clear that choosing Him was certain death here on earth. Death to living the culturally common life, death to the pursuit of material possessions, death to the pursuit of living for recreation, death to living a life to fill and gratify my selfish desires.

But choosing death to these things is choosing a life greater than we can create.

Jesus proved the value and blessings of the life He offered as He healed hearts and hands, made common men into world changers, taught reconciliation in the gravest family fallouts and generosity when down to the last morsel.

Just as kids need their parents to lead them spiritually by example, to chart the path for their uncertain future when faith will be tested to a greater extent, we have a Savior that has done that for us.

Though Jesus knew how His life on earth would end He was caught taking time to celebrate and enjoy the companionship of His creation. He didn’t spend His life fretting over the pain He would endure, if He would have the ability to follow through with the rescue plan or what would happen to his disciples when that plan was executed. Investing in those around Him, Jesus was focused on spreading His redemptive message, a salve for the weary and anxious,

“Come, follow me. I love you and have a place just for you.”

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In His final moments before His world went up in flames, Jesus sat at a table among friends, even an enemy. He squeezed every last ounce of opportunity out of His last breaths here on earth by sharing truth and encouraging words with his disciples and men on crosses beside him.

So what are we doing?

Are we cowering, overwhelmed by the in-our-face reality of what Jesus taught would happen or are we speaking life-giving words into each other’s hearts? Are we taking time to soak in the strength God will give or overdosing on temporary fixes and distractions?

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20 responses to “A World In Flames: Hope For The Discouraged Heart

  1. Julie— I just spoke to an audience of kids about this. The last night before all Hell broke out, he ate a meal with his closest friends, then he washed their feet. The gospels record this as if it were all done with great calm and resolve and peace . .. This is what he left us with—
    My peace I leave with you”. There are SO many reasons to be flattened—but Jesus wasn’t, and our kids and all around us need us to be living, breathing, loving, peaceful people. Just as you say so beautifully. THANK you for working through this and bringing light back to dark times!

  2. Pingback: » A World In Flames: Hope For The Discouraged Heart·

  3. I can really relate to this post on many levels i.e. Candy Crush while the world is burning…what are we doing here in America? You are right, Jesus did not spend his life fretting over the coming pain he would endure and we shouldn’t either. The time is short – Write on and be brave! Love to you. xo.

    • Thank you Aleah for your commitment to sort through weighty topics, to not shirk or shrink, but to rise up. You amaze me!

    • Thank you for taking a moment to read this and leave me with such kind words. It took more than an hour to write:) LOL

  4. You powerfully bring to focus how these vile things in some parts of the world are and how they affect our hearts and minds; along with a call for all to look to the one right path in life!

  5. Oh my goodness Julie! This is an incredible post. You wrote my inner thoughts and fears, you expressed them perfectly and then you returned to where my heart always ends: at the feet of Jesus. I think this post’s title would make an excellent book title. Is that what you are writing? I look forward to your book.
    Keep the faith dear heart; for soon our eyes will see Him, the hope of our hearts.
    Blessings

      • Julie, Thank you! Isn’t it funny how using words gives a face to fear and hope alike? If you think this is of value to your audience, please share it! Also, you’ll probably appreciate the links in the article (if you haven’t already read them) and this latest article from a personal favorite, Leslie Leyland Fields, who prefaced the article with, as if we need another article…http://www.leslieleylandfields.com/2015/02/lord-have-no-mercy-upon-isis.html
        And yet, I DO need ANOTHER article because every article I read is at a different point of life and healing. Each article helps stir courage and hope.

  6. very good read – it is true that one way the devil can defeat us is by overwhelming us with our own world – then we just give up and spend our time playing silly games – but just by writing this post – you have defeated the devil! There is nothing you could do to save those martyred – God already has that covered…but by spreading the word with others, then others will know of these martyrs and satan’s evils will be brought into the light – and perhaps in that small way, we are able to do something right?

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