Do you find yourself wondering what is wrong with our world today? Do the current events have you feeling nervous and anxious? If so, it is to be expected. I often write about the need for us to change our perspective, so I found this quote by Henri Nouwen, a renown spiritual author, to be quite enlightening:
“Many people live with the unconscious or conscious expectation that eventually things will get better; wars, hunger, poverty, oppression, and exploitation will vanish; and all people will live in harmony. Their lives and work are motivated by that expectation. When this does not happen in their lifetimes, they are often disillusioned and experience themselves as failures. But Jesus doesn’t support such an optimistic outlook. He foresees not only the destruction of his beloved city Jerusalem but also a world full of cruelty, violence, and conflict. For Jesus there is no happy ending in this world. The challenge of Jesus is not to solve all the world’s problems before the end of time but to remain faithful at any cost.”
It is often the case that our expectations cause us anxiety, especially when they are unrealistic. But isn’t it proper to hope for world peace? Sure, a wonderful goal toward which to strive, but probably unrealistic. Not to say that we give up; but to re-frame our expectations toward realistic goals such as peace within ourselves, our families, our communities. A realistic way of thinking is not such that we question God about why the negative things are happening, but rather to be faithful to God and trust that God has all this under control. How can I believe that? Because God put us here to love one another. To treat those around us as we ourselves would like to be treated. If we do so, our lives will be filled with peace.
In a book entitled “Franciscan Voices on 9/11“, one of the contributors writes:
“In the scriptures, God does not say, ‘Do not fear, I will take away all the pain and struggle.’ Rather, we hear, ‘You have no need to fear, since I am with you’ and together we will make it.”
So, where does all this leave us? To simply sit back and say “oh well, nothing I can do about it.” No! These quotes give us hope and encouragement. We must take action to make our world a better place. The difference is in how we define “world” and our expectations. If “world” is redefined to be my family and local community; and if my expectation is that I will do all I can, faithful to my belief in God in the hopes for a better “world”, then yes, we can and should take every action possible to make a difference.
“Therefore I begin to think, my Lord, you purposely allow us to be brought into contact with the bad and evil things that You want changed. Perhaps that is the very reason why we are here in this world, where sin and sorrow and suffering and evil abound, so that we may let You teach us so to react to them, that out of them we can create lovely qualities to live forever. That is really the only satisfactory way of dealing with evil. Not simply binding it so that it cannot work harm, but whenever possible overcoming it with good.”
Yes, together, all of us united and all of us faithful to God, together we can, and will, make a difference.