We live in a heartbreaking and a dangerous world. I recently grieved with a friend and a community the shocking loss of their healthy, twelve-year-old daughter, I cried out to God with our nation at senseless devastating massacres, and glued my eyes to news stories of natural disasters with prayers and whatever support I could muster. It is somewhat expected when I wake up in the morning, I wonder, “what bomb or tragedy or unparalleled devastation will I learn about today and have to fit into my worldview next?”
This barrage of information is actually a new phenomenon that our modern minds and hearts need training to handle. Devastation has always occurred throughout history, but humanity never had the instantaneous information on little devices in their hands of every major tragedy happening in every corner of the globe. To keep our hearts from crushing under the weight of the knowledge of all the world’s calamities, we have to develop the ability to bear the burden of knowledge without losing ourselves in fear, worry, and depression.
Here are eight suggestions to keep your heart alive in an age of unknown and impending tragedy. (Note: Others can discuss the readiness and precautions necessary, these are tools for our soul).
Win with joy: If bad people want to do us harm, all they need to do is force us to live in fear and they steal our joy. Choose to live with joy, even in the face of unknown future disaster and we win.
Waste wastefulness: Time can never be replaced but is our most valuable resource. When our lives are often uneventful we get lulled into time-wasting habits: clickbait, constant binge-watching, shopping for more unnecessary stuff or whatever else makes the hours fly by. These are like junk food for our soul. Anyone who faces a near death experience gets an instant perspective on the value of time and never wasting a moment. Take advantage of the life you have and live it to the full.
Get help: If there is a struggle in your soul, there’s no time to mess around pretending that you can take care of things on your own. So that you can remove the barriers to your joy and life to the full just get humble and get help and move on from that thing blocking your path.
Drive out fear: Fear is like a bird it will always fly around our heads. As Martin Luther said: “You cannot keep birds from flying over your head but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.” If you can’t go out into the world and experience joy because of gripping fear then you have some work to do. You’ll need to dig into the next suggestion.
Face death: We are all dying, it’s just a matter of when. It sounds extreme to mention this, but death is the greatest fear many of us carry which is why unpredictable tragedy can be so scary. The only way to overcome fear is to internalize this Biblical truth “Perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18). It is the perfect love of Jesus Christ who has made a way for life to the full now and life beyond death when our time comes. We don’t need to fear because His love covers us.
Control what you can control: There are some things we can control. Be smart, observe surroundings and dangers, train your kids to do the same etc. Beyond this the only thing we can control is our own head. Dwell on all the things that can go wrong at any possible moment and welcome to a life of misery. Choose to control what you can including your own thoughts and move on to live a great life.
Grow your gratitude: Occasionally, when I notice my head is going a little off the rails, I sit back and start listing the amazing things and people God has poured into my life. Fear has no grip in the face of gratitude. Watch the power of gratitude pull your heart out of the gutter and build that habit into your life.
Serve others: If humanity continues in a downward spiral of hate towards one another, violence will compound. The only way to fight against hate is through loving service. When someone is broken and in need, show them love, bring patience, model the behavior you want to see and receive. We must infuse light into this dark world with how we live if we want the darkness to recede.