We live in an age of outrage, and more destructive and infuriating things happen every year. How does God want us to react? How can we avoid burnout?
It seems like every day truly horrendous and abominable events occur that deserve our outrage.
A few of these stories are highly publicized. Uncounted others go woefully unnoticed. We couldn’t possibly grasp the enormity of the evil all around us—the millions of individual stories of suffering hidden behind the statistics about child abuse, human trafficking, violence, cruelty, injustice, war crimes, prejudice, corruption and murder.
The effects of an evil world on God’s people
God does get angry about the sins that are bringing our world to the brink of self-destruction, and He does want His people to “sigh and cry over all the abominations” (Ezekiel 9:4; see more in the Life, Hope & Truth articles “Why Is God Angry?” and “Ezekiel: Exploring His Emphasis for Today”).
Peter highlighted the toll of these outrageous evils on godly people. He told of righteous Lot who “was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked” and who “tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds” (2 Peter 2:7-8).
We can be beaten down, depressed, even burned out by the evils around us. How can we keep them from negatively influencing us or causing our love to grow cold (Matthew 24:12)? What does God want us to do so we can endure to the end (verse 13)?
Peter shows where we should focus. The example of Lot shows that “the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment” (2 Peter 2:9).
God is in charge, and He will make it all right in the end.
Does God want us to be constantly outraged to the point of frustration and burnout? No, the Bible shows God’s balanced plan for our spiritual growth and well-being. He does want us to hate evil, not to hide our heads in the sand or to accept it. But He also wants us to have so much more, such as the fruit of His Spirit:
“Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).
Paul’s advice to the Philippians is especially helpful to those feeling oppressed by all the evil news around us today:
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6).
The first step is to recognize that since God is in charge, we don’t need to be anxious. We can go to Him with heartfelt prayers for our own safety and for the deliverance of the whole world through the return of Jesus Christ.
It may seem unnatural to focus on thanksgiving at such a time, but gratitude is fundamental to having the right perspective. To be able to pray in faith without anxiety, we must remember the blessings we have and how God gave them to us. We can be thankful that God is going to bring an end to all the horrible suffering in this world.
And God’s response will be beyond what we can ask or think: “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (verse 7).
Our mind is a battlefield, and God offers the guard we need to help protect us—if we follow His commands.
Our mental marching orders continue in verse 8: “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”
To think more about this pivotal passage, see “Meditate on These Things” and “Christian Meditation.”
Putting our faith and hope in God does not mean ignoring the evils today. It does not mean that we shouldn’t do what we can now, first, to remove evil from our own lives and, second, when possible, to alleviate the suffering of others.
Paul told the Church, “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:9-10).
With the godly focus of faith and reliance on the God of hope, we can find rest from the frustration and futility. In an evil world of problems beyond human solution, weariness and burnout come naturally. But with the godly focus of faith and reliance on the God of hope, we can find rest from the frustration and futility. We can trust and seek to hasten the true solution, soon to be brought by our Deliverer, Jesus Christ.
In the meantime, we strive to do good to all. We start especially with the Church, since our brethren’s needs are best known to us, and they are our family responsibility (1 John 3:17; 4:20). Outside, our efforts may be a drop in the bucket, but we should do what we can.
And God has commissioned His Church to do good in the way He considers most important and effective. We are to preach the good news of His soon-coming Kingdom (Matthew 24:14) and to “go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20; see “What Is the Mission of the Church?”).
Participating in this mission of preparing for God’s Kingdom while living in territory under the sway of the enemy is not for the faint of heart. But God promises to infuse our hearts with His strength and to help us defeat the fatigue.
“The Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. … Those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run, and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:28-31).
With that focus, with that strength, we can overcome outrage fatigue and fulfill the mission God has for us.
Read more in our free booklet The Mystery of the Kingdom.