“Seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.” -- Isaiah 1:17
It’s so easy to get caught up in our petty problems.
The traffic is horrible, the check-out line is slow, it’s too hot, my hair is frizzy, the weeds are taking over the yard, the doctor is making me wait … blah, blah, blah.
Don't get me wrong -- it's just dandy to get annoyed at life's little annoyances, as long as you also try to fix those things that you can. We should be efficient with our time and not waste the precious hours and days God has given us. And that includes making an effort to stop mindless complaining. Do you tend to exhibit road rage in heavy traffic and always end up late? Leave earlier. Hate long check-out lines? Shop during downtimes. Too hot? Go play under the hose or hang out in the air-conditioned mall, for pity’s sake. Having a bad hair day? Get over it.
Far too many of us (myself included) spend too much time stewing over things that aren’t even worth our energy or attention. And I find that so, well … annoying.
Yes, many of us have real troubles in our lives that need to be addressed -- broken relationships, serious illness, economic troubles. As we commit to seek help and make change in our own lives, we must not forget that one way to lift our spirits in the midst of our own real problems (or annoyances) is to focus on meeting the needs of others. One great human failure is turning away from the genuine suffering of so many people around the world -- people who actually have something to complain about, but whose cries of pain and misery go largely unheard by our vast population of self-centered whiners.
I think God has been trying to get my attention of late. Through a series of seemingly unconnected encounters, I keep having to stare torment and evil in the face. I recently spent an hour talking with a network of international journalists who have chosen to live in dangerous circumstances to uncover and report on acts of torture, oppression and persecution. Then, a few weeks ago, I “just happened” to be on a Florida beach the same day some 30 Cuban men, women and children successfully escaped communism and breathed freedom for the first time. And on a recent bright Sunday morning I found myself in church listening to an activist from the International Justice Mission describe how his organization intervenes in the lives of little girls kidnapped and forced into brothels where they are brutally raped many times a day. He described children who spend their young lives as slaves to pay off their impoverished families’ debts, as well as maimed and scarred survivors of genocide who watched as their husbands, wives, sons and daughters were butchered.