How to Watch the News and Still Sleep Soundly

 

 

Stifling.

Ensnaring.

Never trifling.

Never caring.

Quite discreet.

Cloaked with cunning.

Up on your feet –

It wants you running![1]  

 

Fear is a dangerous thing. It’s an emotion that can seep insidiously into our psyches, plant itself like a rank weed among flowery thoughts, and then quietly proliferate until it grows wild, unstoppable, starving our minds from light and life-giving water. When fear takes over, it transforms spectacular, verdant gardens into gray, forgotten graveyards.

Some people don’t watch the news because they prefer not to know what sort of crimes, atrocities, and injustices are taking place in our world today. Knowing causes them fear. I’ve often wrestled with the decision of whether to boycott, as it were, the nightly news and certain political blogs and Facebook pages, but personally I feel that to be ignorant of what’s transpiring impedes my prayer life; or more simply put, the more specifics I’m aware of, the more specifically I can pray…

Jesus taught us to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us (Matt. 5:44; Luke 6:27-28).  Sure, I could interpret that to mean that I should show love to and pray for any enemies I encounter in my daily life, but I believe Jesus meant for us to also apply His words to the Church at large, that is, we should pray for any enemies of Christ and His Bride, as well as intercede for those throughout the world who are suffering at their hands.

Truth be told, I’m blessed that I really don’t have personal enemies, at least not any of whom I’m aware. There’s no one I work with whose blood boils when I convert oxygen into carbon dioxide in their presence. No one on Facebook leaves unkind remarks when I post a Proverb, part of a parable, or quote Spurgeon or Tozer. I don’t find myself in restaurants having to secretly and silently bless my meal in Jesus’ name or risk being fined or jailed or worse. I, along with most of you reading this, am extremely blessed in this regard. This isn’t the case for 100 million of our Christian brothers and sisters in countries such as Columbia, China, India, Iraq, Libya, Nigeria, and Syria. All it takes is a few minutes of Google research to find yourself at once mortified, shocked, and saddened by what’s happening to God’s precious children whose only crime is professing faith in His Son.[1] And if you’re like me, you may also feel yourself growing frightened.

A few nights ago I could hardly fall asleep. I’d been watching the news earlier that evening and reading about the barbarism and heinous murders terrorizing the Middle East. When I closed my eyes, all I could see were the images of evil and darkness slowly morphing into full-blown nightmares. I felt paralyzed and helpless, fearing not only for the lives of the innocents likely wondering if that very hour would be their last, but also for my own nation, my own family, as haunting What if? questions hung in the air like an infernal fog.

I bet you can guess what drove the fog away: the unchanging and unfailing Word of God. I opened the Bible app on my phone and the Verse of the Day “just happened” to be verse 4 of the following passage:

 

“For the Lord takes delight in his people;
    he crowns the humble with victory.
Let his faithful people rejoice in this honor
    and sing for joy on their beds.
May the praise of God be in their mouths
    and a double-edged sword in their hands,
to inflict vengeance on the nations
    and punishment on the peoples,
to bind their kings with fetters,
    their nobles with shackles of iron,
to carry out the sentence written against them—
    this is the glory of all his faithful people.” –Psalm 149:4-9, NIV

 

The Holy Spirit convicted me of my fear – a sin – and lovingly directed me to the only readily available and totally reliable source of faith we have…the Bible. Turning off the TV, plunging my head into the sand wasn’t the remedy; the solution was, and forever will be, activating my faith and sticking my nose into Scripture.

 

Psalm 46

 

Someone great – maybe Socrates, maybe Stan Lee – said:

“With great power comes great responsibility.”

Granted, watching or reading the news doesn’t make one powerful, but because knowledge is often associated with and even defined as power (Schoolhouse Rock, anyone?), I don’t think it a stretch to render this quote as:

“With great knowledge comes great responsibility.”

We live in the Information Age (You may have noticed!). We literally have knowledge at our fingertips, be it via a smartphone, laptop keyboard, or TV remote control. We can choose to only inform ourselves about the trendy, the funny, and the lighthearted, or we can learn to take in the negative news as well and take on the responsibility of giving it to God in prayer. Only by doing this can we prevent weeds from taking root and destroying the soil of our souls.

 

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged,
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness,
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

                (From the hymn, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”)

Diana Anderson-Tyler blog signature

[1] Poem by me, Diana Anderson-Tyler

[2] http://www.worldwatchlist.us/about/ (accessed August 24, 2014)

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