Recently I was watching a documentary called ‘Struggle Street’, a raw and honest look into the lives of Australians facing challenges including homelessness, addiction and unemployment.
I was brought to tears as my heart felt the intense aching of their own broken hearts. It was a feeling I hadn’t experienced for some time – truly connecting with the pain of others.
How did I become so numb?
The aching of my heart woke me up, making me realise how numb I had become to other’s pain and suffering. I remembered back to a time where I would purposefully devour books and watch films that would open my eyes to issues of poverty and injustice. I would often weep, passionately telling others about what I had just learnt. It set me on a path of pursuing ways I could make a difference.
So how did I become so numb?
Perhaps the sheer volume of bad news is causing us to become immune to feeling anything when we see pain, violence and suffering played out before our eyes. Maybe we cannot help but become desensitised.
Connecting with the pain of others and opening our eyes to the need surrounding us requires us to move into action. When our heart is connected to the wells of compassion God has given us, it drives us to do something. It won’t allow us to pass by the beggar on the street without stopping.
And maybe that’s the reason we refrain from fully connecting to the pain around us. Maybe it’s easier, more comfortable, less risky, to go through life with blinkers on our eyes and bubble wrap around our hearts.
The danger of comfortable
Our human instinct to seek safety and security leaves a vulnerability to seeking empty distractions that fulfil our need to stay comfortable. And so instead of seeing the need around us, we fill our lives and consciousness with getting our own needs met.
But comfortable is dangerous. Comfortable lulls us into inaction. Comfortable assumes ‘someone else will do it’. Comfortable doesn’t like to get its hands dirty. Comfortable closes its eyes to danger, evil and suffering. Comfortable lives in its own little world without contributing anything to the real world.
I don’t know about you, but that’s not the kind of life I want to live.
I want to purposefully and prayerfully keep my heart soft and open, asking God to show me specific needs to focus on. I want to have my heart continually broken for the things that break his heart. I want to do all I can to refrain from falling into apathy.
Wake up and do something
We have no right to complain the world is ‘going to hell in a hand basket’ if we are not doing anything to be a part of the solution.
Thinking like this shows a defeatist mindset, and a defeatist mindset completely disempowers us. It takes our focus off the gifts, talents and resources we’ve been given, and puts it on the problem, assuming it’s too big for us to tackle. So we do nothing.
The bigger the problem, the more room there is for us to move – to do something about it! We were born to make a difference, as corny as it may sound. It’s true – we were born for a purpose. Firstly, to receive God’s love and to love him in return and secondly, as an outflow of the first, to love others!
And love looks like something! Love looks like letting our hearts be broken, like opening our eyes to the need around us, like using our gifts, talents and resources to bring solutions to poverty, pain, injustice and need. Love requires action.
God has given us everything we need to be love to a hurting world. How can we know him without connecting with his heart that aches for the broken and suffering?
Ask God today to break your heart and open your eyes to the need. Then look at what he’s put in your hands…and go use it to do something good.
(One suggestion is to visit www.facebook.com/LubaMaternityCenter/ - and give towards this amazing maternity clinic which faces closure due to lack of funding). For more information you can contact me (Bonnie Dowie) via Facebook or email@example.com
‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.’ – Edmund Burke
Bonnie loves all things old-fashioned, exploring new places, coffee with friends and being with her family. She is passionate about broken hearts and relationships being restored through the power of vulnerability and honesty with God and others. Bonnie has a Bachelor of Humanitarian and Community Studies and a Master of International Public Health, and hopes to work in developing countries one day.
Bonnie Dowie’s previous articles may be viewed at