Words of Hope by Pastor Rhoda Klein Miller
Fires, floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, building collapses, political turmoil and oh yeah, the delta variant. Are you feeling like there is just too much bad news these days? Have you noticed a desire to tune out or turn away and distract yourself from all the doom and gloom? What once was seen as an uncaring or lazy attitude, apathy is now being recognized by mental health experts as a symptom of depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress.
This dissociative numbness is part of a complex avoidance or “flight” mechanism to escape hurt and pain. American novelist John Dos Passos wrote: “Apathy is a characteristic response of any living organism when it is subjected to stimuli too intense or too complicated to cope with. The word “apathy” originated from the Greek ‘apathos’ meaning “free of suffering”. In this sense, our apathy is indicative of the arch of human history. The good news is apathy can be the gateway to needing Jesus who died to reverse sin’s curse. Rather than a product of brokenness, perhaps apathy is a gift from God to help us conserve energy, to ignore the noise and focus on the things that matter most.
Apathy can be the wake-up call to the need for more self-care and a restorative Sabbath practice. It is misdirected apathy that is problematic for a Christian. We should care less about superficial matters that drain our energy instead of allowing indifference to the cries of those in need. 1 John 3:17-18 states “If anyone has the world’s goods and sees another in need but can’t be bothered to care, how does God’s love abide within them? Let us not love merely in words but in deed and in truth.” God doesn’t expect you to give what you do not have and He will provide the capacity to remain open-hearted towards the hurting. Review where your time and attention is going. Strive to recharge each day with good nutrition and sleep. Renew your commitment to prayer, service and donate to the charitable organizations responding to these crises. Jesus is coming soon to replace apathy with true freedom from this suffering world. “Do not become weary of doing good, for in due time we will have a great reward if we do not give up” Galations 6:9.