Unless you've been living under a rock, you will be well aware that our world is in desperate need of peace. Recent news has shown countless occasions whereby it seems as if humanity has lost its marbles and we're headed downhill for good.
You may have been like me, waking up last week to immediately check whether any hostages had died in the siege in Sydney, or turning on the news to hear that eight children had been stabbed to death by a mother in Cairns.
I have heard various responses to these events, from anger towards particular religious or political groups to stereotyping people of particular racial backgrounds. I know of many who sat in front of their televisions riddled with anxiety, waiting for a sign of resolution, or some explanation as to the events that unfolded. Some friends of mine even stayed up until they could hear the words, 'The Sydney siege is over.'
I noticed two trends in people's reactions to the events: Worry and condemnation. Both were fuelled by grief at the horrific scenes that played out on their television screens, but each reflected a self-centred attitude about the atrocities.
For many people, the sadness that they felt fuelled anxious thoughts about the event and what would become of the people involved. However, these anxious thoughts did not achieve anything in the grand scheme of things.
Anxiety can be fuel for our prayers. If we truly believe that we serve a loving, gracious, all-powerful God, then why do we sit in anxiety, rather than take our worries to our King? 1 Peter 5 verse 7 says, "Cast your cares upon him for he cares for you." After all, our God sees everything and can do anything.
Having been gripped with sadness about the hostage situation, many others responded with declarations of condemnation against the government officials involved. "I would've just shot him", "If I ever get held hostage, I'll be left to my own resources obviously" and "They left them to die", were common exclamations I heard.
Whilst those who said these things were deeply saddened for the people inside, and obviously felt like the authorities could've done more to protect these people, I wonder how many of them shot up a prayer for the authorities? Many government officials had had little sleep, and were under immense pressure from many angles. I wonder how many of us stopped to pray for those with much responsibility, before heaping judgement upon them.
I, myself, am convicted that my first reaction to these events was to not fall on my knees and ask God to be with each person involved. Though I was filled with such deep sadness that this situation had come about, I also trust that God is all-powerful and all-knowing. With this in mind, my first response should have been to raise my concerns to my good and gracious God.
So, let me ask you. When you turn on the television or look at your Facebook news feed and see articles about what is happening in the big bad world out there, what is your response? If worry, then what happens with the worry? If a desire to judge, then what does that lead to?
Sadness and grief at the state of our world can be fuel for worry and a desire to condemn. Worry and a desire to condemn can be fuel for prayer. Which fire are you fuelling?
Sarah Young is completing her Masters in Clinical Psychology and loves spending time engaging with young people. She spends her spare time writing songs, running and going on adventures with her husband, James.
Sarah Young's previous articles may be viewed athttp://www.pressserviceinternational.org/sarah-young.html