Wednesday, November 9, 2016

We live in a terribly harsh world. Yes, there is beauty. Yes, there is good and there are people--perhaps most--who are kind and generous and helpful. Still, there is a lot of heartache and terror. There are times when I feel like my faith and beliefs have equipped me with a squirt gun in order to fight a raging, out-of-control fire. What good can I do? What benefit is there in the gospel when the world burns out of control?

I walk through Central Park and it seems to be an unreal oasis in the middle of a city of disparity and hurt and anguish. Even in this oasis I see a homeless man sitting on a bench asleep, who has clearly soiled his pants recently, all his worldly possessions gathered on either side of him in plastic bags. I can hear the traffic nearby as cars and trucks and buses and pedestrians hustle and rush toward their own destinations, acknowledging one another only as someone to navigate around, as someone in the way between them and where they're going. The streets are littered with the dirty smudges of discarded gum, now a semi-permanent part of the sidewalks. A baby cries, a man shouts, a woman weeps, a horn honks, brakes squeal. Beneath the streets and buildings there are dark tunnels through which subways clack over the tracks carrying commuters, as they blankly stare through one another or scroll through their smart phone messages or read a book and ignore those around them.
In the buildings there are people, like ants or bees, busy with their work. Producing little of consequence, but distracted from the empty ache in their heart.
Around the world there are human traffickers ruining the lives of men, women, and children. As they do so they are killing their own souls with each dehumanizing act. Elsewhere there are deals being made as laws are being ignored; money being exchanged for political favors; corruption that poisons hope and the future as well as the ecosystem that sustains all life.
There is so much terror that never makes the news, so much suffering, so much bribery and exploitation and violence. My little squirt gun is inept and useless against such relentless fires.  I feel impotent and it seems that God is only a flimsy Dixie cup of water I can toss on the inferno.

And yet, that betrays the size of my heart more than it represents the power of God; that discloses my lack of faith and trust in the omnipotent Creator rather than acknowledging the reality of the world.

My little squirt gun is not all there is. There are billions of others who have their squirt guns. And we have an unlimited supply of water. And we have hope and persistence and vision and encouragement and examples of the faithful before us. And we have an example to provide for others to be inspired. And behind our puny efforts to make a difference is God, who will not permit one person to pass from this life without knowing the terrifyingly wondrous love God has for us, each of us. That extinguishes all fires in an instant.

© 2016 Stephen Carl

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