I’m sitting here in the safety of a coffee shop. It’s almost empty at this hour and so I can think, write, and pray.
I don’t want to listen to the news. The death toll is over five thousand and counting in Nepal. Newsfeeds are endless in their stories and statistics.
The governor has called the National Guard to Baltimore, with hopes that peace will be restored. Looting, riots, police violence – it’s all there and more.
And then there’s life in our neighborhood, where the lawyers for Tsarnaev are arguing against the death penalty. It is amazing the number of people vehemently opposed to capital punishment who want Tsarnaev to die. At what point do we change hard held opinion based on what we deem to be a crime worthy of a death that we have argued against?
The fact that I’m safe, drinking a great cup of coffee only serves to make me feel more depressed, more helpless.
And that’s the thing – in the face of all this, we are helpless. There is little most of us can do to make any of these situations better. It would not help for us to get on a plane to Nepal unless there is a specific skill we can bring. When my oldest brother was in Pakistan helping in earthquake relief he told me of a group that sent hundreds of people to Pakistan. He said there were around 250 people wandering around the hillside with no language skills, no knowledge of Pakistan, and no knowledge of humanitarian aid. It was a disaster, but they all went home with good pictures of the tragedy.
It’s the book of Kings where I find comfort today. For those not familiar, these are books in the Old Testament. They are full of blood shed and violence, full of stories of tragedies, full of the sordid tales of leaders and others doing evil things.
These books tell the narrative of the different Kings of Israel and Judah. The books begin with David’s death and sweep us through history looking at every King. I’ve no idea what scholars say about the books of Kings but it strikes me that the theme is simple; really simple.
Either they did what was good, or they did what was evil. There is no ambiguity. We are told their names and immediately after their names we have an assessment of their lives. They either chose to do right or they chose to do wrong.
Could it be that simple? Could it be that I complicate my life far more than I need when it’s really about choosing God and good, or choosing to not choose God and not choose good? About refusing evil and choosing good?
Could it be that in the middle of these worldwide tragedies that are so far away in distance, and yet so close to all of us in terms of news reports, that what I am called to is to do good?
Is it that simple?
Today the prayer of my heart is that I choose good.