Ever watched the hit 90’s sitcom Seinfeld? Remember Newman, the overly confident, morbidly obese mailman who was constantly caught in a farcical conflict with the Jerry Seinfeld?
Newman was a lot wiser than anyone gave him credit for.
In one episode, Newman explains why postal workers are known to go crazy.
“Because the mail never stops. It just keeps coming, and coming, and coming. There’s never a let up! It’s relentless! Everyday it piles up more and more and you gotta get it out, but the more you get it out the more it keeps coming in…”
I’m not a postal working. But I am going postal.
I’m going postal watching the headlines. Sitting at the desk at the radio station where I’ve been interning at for the past few weeks.
I’m surrounded by eight wall-mounted plasma televisions, each silently displaying the news on a different channel.
In front of me, my monitor hums gently to the metronome of ticker-tape wires, flashing colourfully at the bottom of my screen.
The APP wire collects tragedies by the second and delivers them in neat, typed packages on my desktop.
At least once a day, the fax machine buzzes to life with another media release. Who uses faxes any more? Journalists do…
Another death, another court case, another disease disrupts my comfort.
Every second is another fresh reminder of this world’s increasing depravity and devastation.
So maybe this is a glimpse of the reality God faces every second of every day for all eternity. Whilst I watch the pre-packaged, censored details flood my world with darkness, He watches the unfiltered constant, unending pain multiply all over the world.
The difference is, I can switch my computer off. I can detach. I can walk out of the newsroom at 6pm and go home to a loving family who will help me forget the horrors of the headlines.
Even still, I find it difficult to recover my hope.
So how do I restore my compassion and hope beyond the headlines?
Understand that grief is natural
My pain is not a sign of weakness.
If more journalists felt the weight of depravity in the words they read, perhaps we’d have a world saturated in compassion instead of judgement. Perhaps we would see ourselves turning to righteous anger instead of retributive anger.
We cannot afford to turn away from the suffering of others. The Bible speaks countless times about the way Christ’s followers are to treat the poor and the suffering.
Perhaps most profoundly, Jesus explains in Matthew 25:34-36, that it is our treatment of the suffering that will qualify us as His “blessed people”.
“…Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’…”
Renew your joy in Christ daily
That’s a whole lot of Christian nonsense isn’t it?
The simple truth is: if I neglect daily communion with Christ, I am cutting myself off from my life force. I will not survive. I will not overcome the darkness. It will defeat me.
It’s far too easy for me to become disillusioned with the world, and stop caring. Certainly, I can gain a very blinkered, devastating view of the world by reading the feed all day.
There’s no point denying the reality of pain in the world.
But I need to make a choice: do I become cynical, bitter and probably a little bit fearful? Or do I find joy in brokenness?
Which is more beneficial to me? And more importantly, which is more Christlike?
The Bible says that the source of my joy is the Lord. “…Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10, abridged)
In Romans 12:2, we are called to “…not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
The world is not perfect. It’s quite the opposite. But like with most things, we learn what something is by knowing first what it is not. God’s standard of perfection exists in the binary of how imperfect this world is. The pain proves the pleasure’s goodness. Chaos proves the existence of order.
So, like the Psalmist, I refuse to be defeated by the headlines. Instead, I will take the horrors of this world to remind me of the goodness of my God.
“But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.” (Psalm 5:11)
The news won’t stop. And neither will my God. No darkness is stronger than His light.