America is a mess. The uproar over the election of Donald Trump has been monumental. Our political climate has never been more polarized. There is a clear divide between large groups of people in America about many issues. Social media has intensified not only the pace but also the depth of disagreement. This world is a mess too. Aleppo is a catastrophe on every level. Innocent people are dying in incredible numbers. Children are starving without food. The world seems powerless to stop it. How can we respond to all of this?
We can begin with an appropriate dose of humility. No one has all the answers. God is God and we are not is a good starting point.
We may think we know what to do and who is right and who is wrong.
King Solomon one of the wisest men who ever lived wrote, "No one in this world always does right" (Ecclesiastes 7:20)
If the answers were easy the solutions would have already been implemented. But they are not and anyone who thinks so is filled with hubris.
Humility acknowledges we are not the supreme judges of fairness. All of us have our internal biases, our preconceived ideas about how life should be. We see things from our perspective and assume it is the correct one. A humble stance acknowledges the complexity of issues. Obvious or clear steps would have been taken had it been so simple.
The fairness issue can easily lead to the most popular of all God questions: Why does God allow such pain and suffering?
The simplest answer is we all have a free will. We are not robots who do God's bidding we are human beings who choose good or evil. Choices are made every day that create havoc and heartbreak in this world. Evil exists because we create it. This is not God's will it is ours. By our own volition we have created this mess.
Yet, even in the midst of it all we still receive God's undeserved mercy. Thankfully we don't always get what we deserve. While we may ask, "Why?" we could just as easily ask, "Why not?" For all the messed up stuff happening there is much good to witness as well. It does not take much effort to see the messes that are being fixed and the hope that is being offered. Focusing on this good is a healthy response.
We also respond with balance. Extremes in either direction serve no purpose. Our thinking should avoid easy answers that reflect a simplistic view of life. We need not be either too judgmental or too immoral. Unless we have walked in another's shoes we don't know the whole story. At the same time we do know certain choices result in wrong outcomes. Our response is a balance between a "holier than thou" attitude and a "do whatever you want" one.
We will be confused at times about what to do. And we will never have all the answers. Only those who live on the extremes claim such certainty.
A wise person responds to the world as he finds it not as he wishes it would be. Wisdom comes in the acceptance of reality. This world will never be the way we want it. And we will not have the control we crave on a personal level or a geopolitical one. Striving and struggling against reality accomplishes nothing. We act wisely by recognizing the difference between what has been chosen for us like our talents and family and what we choose to personally change. Bad choices and unwise decisions cause much of the mess in this world.
In the midst of all the tragedy and chaos we can respond with trust in God. His love and grace is experienced in many ways and in many places.
The universe is clearly ordered but it is not a machine. Everything is in process. God is still at work. He is not finished. There will be a day of ultimate justice. The unfairness of this world will not go unpunished forever.
In the meantime God cares about our fears, he cares about the hurting children in Aleppo.
As the psalmist wrote, "You have stored my tears in your bottle and counted each of them." (Psalm 56:8)
Anger and vitriol do nothing positive. Responses that ignore the complicated nature of our world only increase the upset. The answers may ultimately lie in the process.
What small part might we play in healing our broken country? Problems unsolvable today could be solved tomorrow. Impossible situations do not always stay that way. Insight can be granted at the most opportune moment. Life is not fair but God is good.