Last week we remembered 13 years since the horrific events of September 11th. It is still vividly burned into my mind, and seems like just yesterday. I also remember the outpouring of love and aid that happened as our nation came together and addressed so much suffering.
I was talking with someone recently about how the media allows us to be aware of more of the world than we once were able to be aware of, which has both pros and cons. The cons involve the fact that there are horrific things happening throughout the world all the time. People dying from wars, abuse, hunger, sickness. We can sometimes feel overwhelmed by how much is wrong with the world, and we can feel very small in the face of it all. It can sometimes make us feel depressed, and even guilty for experiencing happiness while knowing and seeing that others are suffering.
But it is also something that can make us more aware of the good things we can be doing to make the world a better place. “When anyone looks with charity on someone in distress. . . a feeling of compassion is aroused. And since the feeling is stirred by the Lord, it is an alerting by Him. Indeed when people who are perceptive have feelings of compassion they know that they are being alerted by the Lord to offer help.” (Emanuel Swedenborg - "Secrets of Heaven" paragraph 6737).
In the next Bryn Athyn small-group Bible-study program called "What Would Love Do?"—which is a study of the last parable in Matthew chapter 25—we will be focussing on other people’s suffering. People who are spiritually hungry, thirsty, lonely, vulnerable, sick and trapped. It may feel like a focus on what is negative in ours and others’ lives, but it is something that can really inspire those feelings of compassion that allow us to feel the Lord’s love more, and therefore bring happiness and peace into our world. Every little act of love in this world is an integral piece of the Lord’s powerful presence for goodness in this world. There is a lot of suffering in the world. But there is also a lot that love can do. "In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).