I am pretty resistant to motivational slogans. I’d like to call myself a realist, but maybe I’m just a grouchy-puss. Either way, phrases like, “Believe in yourself!” and “You can be ANYTHING you want to be!” and, “Dream big, and make it happen!” grate against my nerves something fierce!
Believe in myself? When I’m tired and cranky and short-tempered and didn’t get enough sleep and feel like crawling right back into bed? I know myself too well to believe in myself some days.
I can be ANYTHING I want to be? Really?? Well…I’m actually pretty good at quick, practical math, but when it comes to calculus and statistics, I’m hopeless. So…given that fact, it seems a little unlikely that I’ll ever become a rocket scientist, no matter how badly I want it.
Dream big, and make it happen! I’m all about goal-setting, but some days, my “big dream” is just to pee alone. Somehow, I don’t think that’s what they’re talking about.
So, I just kind of rolled my eyes as I perched this cute little card on my vintage typewriter in the entryway. I mean, really? Keep looking to the sky, and you’ll get wings? Cute sentiment but hardly practical (even my 9-year-old was like: “Um, that’s not true, mama.” Word, kiddo).
Although I already knew they were heinous, when my mom emailed me some links about what’s going on in the Middle East–how Isis is systematically murdering (via brutal crucifixions, beheadings, and dismemberment), raping, and kidnapping Jews, Christians, and pretty much anyone else who doesn’t support their purposes–my heart just felt so heavy.
Here I am in my cozy, safe, comfortable house with my healthy, happy children, and not far enough away to matter, mamas just like me are watching their children die from starvation (or worse…if there is such a thing). What about their dreams? Their wings? What platitudes could I possibly offer that would do anything but belittle their anguish?
I felt so defeated and downhearted. Not just because of the unspeakable horrors taking place in the world but also because there’s a pretty good chance that, unless someone puts a stop to it (the U.S. isn’t doing tons, and even the help we do send ends up in the wrong hands all too often), this cancer can and will spread (already has, if we’re honest) through other parts of the world, which means it will very literally be my (and my children’s) problem too. I don’t want this evil for these Arab and Jewish families. And I don’t want it for mine either.
And it makes that little quote on my typewriter laughable.
Except that, this morning, I read these words in Isaiah 40:
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood since the earth was founded?
22 He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,
and its people are like grasshoppers.
He stretches out the heavens like a canopy,
and spreads them out like a tent to live in.
And then these familiar, comforting verses:
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
Where is the Lord in the midst of all of this turmoil, both personal and worldwide? He “sits enthroned above the circle of the earth.”
AND he “is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18).
He is above us, and he is right beside us. He hems us in behind and before and lays His hand upon us.
And you know what else? Isaiah 40:31 says that he gives us wings like eagles.
I can look at that little quote on my typewriter now with new eyes. I’m not looking up out of foolish optimism or delusion but because of a sure promise from my Creator who sits enthroned above the circle of the earth. And my wings? They’re not mine at all, but His.
Oh, how my tired, burdened heart needed this perspective reset this morning.
I used those verses this morning to pray for the young (and the old) in the Middle East who are literally being torn to pieces, or if they’re “lucky,” merely being driven from their homes–who are tired and weary, who are fainting from pure exhaustion and from the atrocities that they have witnessed and experienced.
Of course, as essential as prayer is, so is food (and other necessities) for the refugees.
My mom is great about doing research that I don’t often have (or take) the time to do, so I asked her to recommend two reliable organizations that are doing practical things to provide for refugees from Isis in the Middle East.
These are, of course, only two of the myriad options out there, and I highly encourage you to do your own research on both the crisis and the organizations that are stepping in to help. But, at least it gives us somewhere to start!
My mom told me about Liberty Relief International and RUN–both of whom are helping to give practical relief like blankets, food, and shelter to huge numbers of people who have literally had to flee for their lives.
I’ve been talking to the kids about the horrific things that are happening to children just like them in the Middle East, so I think Shaun and I are going to ask them where we should send our support.
Maybe it’s something you could do as a family too?