History is full of examples of people who saw that something was wrong, or could at least be improved, and have done something about it. This action is hugely important, particularly when it comes from a place of faith, which is why I have been known to become increasingly frustrated with those people who firstly, ignore the world’s problem, or secondly, see it and refuse to act.
One of my favourite stories, and one that keeps me looking grounded when I need some perspective, is about a man who looks into the world and all he sees is pain, destruction, war, poverty, and people crying out for help. He looks but he doesn’t seem to see anything being done, and he questions his faith: he asks why God isn’t sorting it all out, he asks why God can’t stop the wars, heal the pain, and protect those suffering from poverty and hunger. He calls out angrily to God “Why aren’t You doing anything, Lord?”. After a short pause God calls down to this man “Why aren’t you?”.
This may seem like a tough approach, but I truly believe that those who see the pain should also be those willing, at the very least willing, to do something about it. How can we ask God to act when we refuse, or are too lazy, to follow the instructions he has already given us?
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Matthew 22:39, RSV
Sometimes we feel like we are not capable of changing anything. Try. One person can change the world. One person can influence thousands and create fundamental change. Take the Civil Rights Movement; Martin Luther King stood bravely in non-violent protest requesting equal rights for all non-white people. Eventually, with a lot of pain and suffering, this goal was finally reached but allowed children across the world to feel that they were not second-class due to the colour of their skin, and grow up to have the same opportunities as anyone else.
It is when we see our neighbours, see what they need, and love them as we are loved, as every human being deserves, that we can obey this commandment, by helping.
It is when we stand up alone that others start paying attention. Then one person can affect more people, and a movement is formed to change things. This action out of faith is obedience. Sometimes God put us in hard places so we might notice what needs doing. We can’t ask God to ask if we are not willing to be the tools for His action, tools for change.
“Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”
If we can’t start acting, how can we claim to believe God will? If it’s not worth our time, why is it worth God’s time? If we don’t believe we can make a difference to the world, that we are worthy of trying, why should we believe God cares about us?
With faith comes the knowledge of who God is, but also who we are meant to be. We are meant to stand up for the widows, the orphans, the poor, those in pain, those poor in spirit, the alone, the rejected, the excluded. With faith comes action, so instead of asking “why can’t God do something?”, why don’t you start asking yourself what you can do instead.