Planet Earth is Blue, and There's Nothing I Can Do...
News of the passing of David Bowie. News of terrorist attacks in Indonesia. News of stock market falls. News of economic crisis in China. News of natural disasters.
We are torn by news on many fronts, and most of it negative. We are, in this technological age, bombarded by newspaper, TV, radio, and social media.
2016 has started with startling news in some places, expected news in others, and sobering news in places torn by violence and tragedy. Our journalists must be having a field day, as there is plenty of news to report at the moment!
Yet some of this news will fade away, and be passed over by newer news. If not newer news, by dramatic, refurbished and rehashed, old news.
Our lives seem to be driven by current events, and although you cannot deny the effect or impact of many events on the economy, some current events have more impact on our emotions than they do on our physical lives. Some current events touch our lives only briefly, and without any real impact at all apart from a fleeting revival of a memory. Other, sometimes barely noticed, events have long reaching effects - such as those leading to the GFC.
Some economists are predicting a new world melt-down as the fall-out from China. Others are concerned with the fallout from arms testing, and the gearing up for global warfare by North Korea.
There seems to be little "good" news on the horizon globally, but we are told that New Zealand is positioned well to weather some of the economic storms that are looming, and we have, so far, avoided the terrorist threats that have plagued more populous tourist destinations.
Yet in this case our loss is not someone else's gain. Tourism internationally now needs to deal with the reality that tourist spots in particular are often being targeted, and places where Westerners congregate, such as cafes, hotels and restaurants, cannot be considered truly "safe" anymore. The Kiwi desire to travel, to volunteer abroad, and our very fluid population, finds some of our people actually in places where some of these events have taken place. We inevitably cannot remain untouched, untorn, by these events even if they are not on our shores.
Uncertainty, fear, and a realisation of mortality, are by-products of the events that are tearing into the world, and, with some familiar faces and influences now being gone, our lives may be hovering in a state of limbo, waiting for some new impetus or reminder that life goes on regardless. The News can make our own lives seem darker and more empty, and lower our prospects of a brighter future.
Moreover, no one knows when their hour will come: As fish are caught in a cruel net, or birds are taken in a snare, so people are trapped by evil times that fall unexpectedly upon them (NIV)
How do we find encouragement in times like these? How can we lift ourselves out of a "blue funk"? Is there nothing we can do, or does what we do make any difference? Each of us is such a small speck on the planet, and not even a speck that is destined to last long! Do we find ourselves adrift in life? Remote, detached and out of control? In Bowie's song, Space Oddity, Major Tom says: "Planet Earth is blue, and there is nothing I can do..."
The writer of Ecclesiastes felt we should make the best of what time we have on earth, realising there are going to be good times, and there are going to be bad times.
The Message: Ecclesiastes 11:7-8
Oh, how sweet the light of day,
And how wonderful to live in the sunshine! Even if you live a long time, don’t take a single day for granted. Take delight in each light-filled hour, Remembering that there will also be many dark days And that most of what comes your way is smoke.
We could worry, we could be depressed, but neither of these emotions are going to change anything. Life is temporary, and it would be better to enjoy what we have rather than fret about what we don't have, or how little time we have to spend on this earth.
The Apostle Paul said this in Philippians:
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. (Philippians 4:12, NIV)
He goes on to say, right after this:
"I can do all things through Him who strengthens me..."
He's talking about Christ, about the strength and courage God can give us. The peace of mind he can give us. The comfort he can give us. We don't need to feel alone, and we don't need to feel like this life is all there is.
An encouraging Christian song puts this into words. One line says: "You make me see that there's hope beyond tomorrow." If you have time, listen to it here:
And with a promised life to come, haven't we got something to look forward to?
Let's make the best of today. Be content. Help others. And look forward to a bright future.