Is Something Bad Going to Happen?

by Rachel Pieh Jones on July 20, 2016

*I am on vacation and so this is a repost from a blog during the early stages of the Syrian refugee crisis. It is sadly still relevant.

Is something bad going to happen tomorrow?

I mean, is something really bad going to happen tomorrow?

Yes.

I guarantee it.

Maybe not to you. Maybe not where you live. But yes, something really bad is going to happen tomorrow.

Disaster

Sometimes I catch an undercurrent of fear among Christians, a sense that the world might be careening toward the ‘End Times’, an anxiety about the future, and a worry that something might go terribly wrong. If not today, then tomorrow, or next month. (I’m not the only one, Marilynne Robinson wrote about it here)

Guess what?

Something horribly wrong already happened today.

Dead civilians and dead police officers, national holidays turned into massacres, coup attempts…If toddlers washed up, dead, on the beach isn’t horrible enough, how about swordsmen at Swedish schools, shootings on Tennessee campuses, bombs in Turkey, Syrians slaughtered, raped, imprisoned, enslaved? How about Yemenis enduring endless violence and mostly ignored by the global community?

How about girls abducted from school and forced into ‘marriages’ that are really sexual bondage? How about children going to bed hungry and kids with Downs Syndrome chained to bedposts? How about friends with cancer and spouses who cheat and lost jobs? How about corruption and injustice and greed and selfishness? How about a lack of clean drinking water and little respect for our planet?

The world is broken. There is horror and pain and suffering and grief and the only people with the audacity to wonder, ‘will something horrible happen tomorrow, or next week, or next month?’ are those who refuse to look outside their own lives. The ones who are unable to see that something horrible is already happening. The ones who are protected from global terror and famine and war and disease or from personal devastation and loss. Or who think they are because they have built up the false security of defenses and distance.

Something horrible is happening. Right now. In our world. This world. The one we live in and share and are responsible for.

The question can’t be: Is something bad going to happen?

The questions need to be:

When something bad happens somewhere else, what am I (you) going to do about it?

And when something bad happens to me (you), how am I (you) going to respond?

Are we going to be relieved that it isn’t our toddler washed up, dead, and then change the channel?

Are we going to build bigger bank accounts and buy more iPhones and plan ever more luxurious vacations?

Are we going to thank God for his miraculous provision of a parking spot while refusing to even ask the question of why he hasn’t miraculously provided breast milk from the sawed-off breasts of mothers in Sudan so they don’t have to watch their infants starve to death in their laps?

Or are we going to sell all we have and follow Jesus? Jesus who went to the uncomfortable place of shame and death on the cross? Jesus who went outside the cultural norms and touched sick people, dignified the sexually broken and abused, and who brought food to the masses, who welcomed the alien, stranger, and outcast?

How much worse does this world need to be for people to take notice?

It is time to look up from our places of comfort and see that something awful is already happening in the world.

It is time to ask, what are we going to do about it?

For people who live far away from disaster (for now), instead of being afraid of the what-if scenarios of some doomsday forecast, start loving people. Pray for enemies, bless those who persecute. Make choices with your time, money, votes, attitudes, and possessions that are loving toward people.

For those who live closer to disaster (for now), instead of being afraid of what is on the doorstep, love people. Pray for enemies, bless those who persecute. Make choices with time, money, votes, attitudes, and possessions that are loving toward people.

The world is broken and is probably only going to get more broken. God is in the business of redemption, not just of our souls but of our bodies and our planet. Fixing the brokenness is not our job, I will leave that up to the One who is more than able. But loving people and not being afraid or paranoid or isolated is the role I believe God is calling his people to, as part of the redeeming work.

Something bad has already happened. What are you going to do, now?

Here are some books and articles filled with ideas for what you can do:

5 Ways to Stand Up and Be the Church

Syrian Crisis: Christians Cannot Stand and Do Nothing

Pondering Privilege, a book by Jody Fernando about race and faith

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About Rachel Pieh Jones

Rachel was raised in the Christian west and said, ‘you betcha’ and ate Jell-O salads, she now lives in the Muslim east, says ‘insha Allah,’ and eats samosas. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Family Fun, Running Times, and more, and she blogs for Brain Child and Babble.

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