Four years ago to this very day I was walking the streets of Paris, map in hand and jet-lagged parents in tow. The beauty and history of the city struck a note with me that has been unshakeable. Paris offered a breath of fresh air and absolute inspiration. It almost seemed that if you turned just the right corner, you might be swept into Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris universe, sharing drinks and exchanging words with Modigliani or Hemingway.
It was with an aching heart that I learned of the attacks in Paris last week, along with terrorist events in countries across the world. Beruit. Kenya. Syria. The world is aching and hurting, and the injustice seems crushing.
In the face of tragedy, how do we return to our everyday lives? When entire populations are displaced, unable to live safely in their homes, do we continue to sit safely behind our computer screens and wait for others to speak up or jump in? How do we balance the fight against terror abroad and the fight against injustice that exists within our own country and our very neighborhoods?
During a time in my own life filled with questions, I’m finding my best answers rooted in the timeless gospel of Christ. How did Jesus respond to the bad guys? What kind of life did Christ model for us with respect to hospitality? And all the answers I find make me squirm and wish I hadn’t asked. Of course Jesus did the hard things and the holy things. He skipped the easy route and went straight for the upside-down justice of Heaven. And of course, he calls us to do the same. When he separates us into the sheep and the goats, he doesn’t look at our resumes or our church attendance. He looks at how we treated the least of these – the hungry, the thirsty, the strangers, the imprisoned. We find the face of Jesus in the faces of the hurting and the broken, the refugees and the persecuted, in those near and far away.
In complete honesty, a Savior that identifies himself in face of the lowly is hard to reconcile to my comfortable life. My work is terribly ordinary but my heart is broken for this world. How do we navigate this space with a type of grace that accommodates but also a righteousness that cries out for justice? What can I do with my God-given gifts to make this aching world just the smallest bit better?
For me, it all begins and ends with words. I look for wisdom in scripture, friends, and family. I listen to stories filled with hurt and with healing. I softly share my own words, here in this corner of the internet and in coffee shops with close friends. We move forward carefully but with purpose, sharing words, never silent, always open to the hard and holy conversations. We will learn from these words and by learning we will build up a generation of helpers and doers and thinkers.
Pray for Paris. Pray for Beruit. Pray for Kenya. Pray for this broken world of ours. And while you’re at it, pray for your neighborhood. Pray for your city. Pray for all the ways that we can do better, as human beings and as children of God. Pray for the hungry, the thirsty, the strangers, the prisoners.
And if you’re a reader like me, Sarah Bessey’s words in this post have been so helpful for me in attempting to navigate this all. Read on, write on, speak on.