I was drowning in the outrage, exhausted by the injustice. I no longer had the energy to process the facts and the figures. How many dead bodies? How many thousands marching? More state-sanctioned violence and more examples of hypocrisy and the apathy of the political classes. I wished I could click a button and log out of caring, but I had to settle for logging out of Twitter. But that wasn’t quite enough, because although I was no longer gnashing my teeth to the rhythm of the outrage triggers, there was still this strong aftertaste of empty despair mixed with the gnawing guilt of having turned my back on all that is wrong with the world.
At my very core I felt unbalanced: somehow precariously off-kilter and spiralling. Mentally things were swimming in and out of focus. What was the point? My feelings of powerlessness were crippling me and I had let my faith – the initial catalyst for all my desires to champion change and see justice realised – be swamped by the heady mix of emotion and urgency. In and amongst the studies, statistics and news reports I had forgotten the simple things that could keep me afloat in a sea of tragedy. What were they again?
This world is a web of broken systems and that is where the real fight lies. From the base sinful nature of humanity to the social constructs and systems of governance that are built upon that, the task at hand is huge and perspective needs to be maintained. Focusing anger and energy at individuals is easy but in the long-term it’s mostly unproductive. That’s not to say that individuals should not be held to account for what they do, but the fight is always bigger than them – Ephesians 6:12.
Anger is not a sustainable source of energy. There is a time for anger but it exhausts you and depletes your resources when used for longer than necessary. You need a source of motivation that will endure through the droughts and storms. Where does that come from? It comes from faith in a God who calls impossible things into existence – Romans 4:17 – and hope in a God who cares about justice and will one day hold everything and everyone to account – Romans 2:6. That is a powerful source of sustenance and inspiration, especially when everything seems to be crumbling around you.
“But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)
Paul reminded the Galatians that they should not “tire of doing good” – Galatians 6:9. Our culture and our egos demand the constant validation of immediate results, but in campaigning for the elusive triumph of justice and goodness in a world that is anything but, hope, faith and perseverance are the tools we need at our disposal. It’s a hard, narrow path to walk, but one that we have been called to walk nonetheless.