And poverty. And disease. And large-scale crises of any kind, really.
I’m soul-tired of decade-long conflicts — of men from my generation dying in deserts across the globe. I’m exhausted of the internet and cable news which delivers evidence of the fall before my very eyes all the time. In short, I’ve got an acute case of crisis fatigue. This is a condition that’s epidemic, I’m afraid. Its symptoms include increased distraction with trivial matters (Facebook, TV, everything BuzzFeed), terminal shallowness (because thinking and knowing deeply hurts, and we’re tired of hurting), Selfies, and worst of all, cowardice.
Crisis Fatigue is making me a coward.
Cowards are those who lack the courage to do or endure dangerous or unpleasant things. I’m so tired of seeing, reading about, and watching really unpleasant things that I simply don’t want to endure them anymore.
Actually, I think Crisis Fatigue is making all of us cowards.
Politically, our cowardice shows as the impulse to create “fortress America,” and withdraw from the world. Socially, this manifests in the instinct to live virtual lives where we’re liked in lieu of real lives where we’re loved. Morally, our cowardice rears its ugly head in our flat refusal to call wrong wrong. Spiritually, we’re afraid to open our mouths and declare the good news of God’s grace either because we’re terrified it won’t really work or mortified at the prospect of being frowned upon by someone else.
And, then there’s Christian genocide. In my increasing and unnoticed cowardice, I was distracting myself with social media. Normally a safe haven for the meaningless mind vomit of other crisis-fatigued cowards, my social streams were overrun with report after report of the genocide of Christians in Iraq, carried out at the hand of ISIS. As I sat next to my own children, I scrolled past pictures of Iraqi children dying in the desert, or worse. As I sat reclining on my couch in my home I read reports of whole families fleeing theirs. Something shook on the inside of me.
That shaking was a grace.
At that point, my reaction was to quickly think about something else. Anything else. I scrambled for another show, another story, another anything … Like a coward, I tried to run. But graciously, there are some stories — some images — from which one cannot run. That, I think, is the point.
Since that moment I have not refused to watch, to learn, and to hurt deeply at what I see in the world. I’m staring ISIS down in my soul. I’m heaping prayers up for them toward Heaven. I’m coordinating ways to help through our church. No longer running, I’ve found the courage to fight again.
Am I still Crisis Fatigued? You bet. Do I still hate what I read and watch? Absolutely. But God has given me a grace. He let me see my inner coward — fat on the luxuries purchased by the blood and sweat of men greater and earlier than me. And, horrified by what I saw in myself, He called me to return, readied again to engage.
May it be with us. This will not be the final struggle we see. May God give us the grace to rise up under it, strengthened by love, hardened by trial, and head first to the fight. The battle to pray, to be bold, to give generously, love recklessly, and give ourselves away for God’s glory and the good of all.
“…the righteous falls seven times, but gets up again…” (Proverbs 24:16)