Alone in the office, working on my overdue blog article, I was distracted by a blurb that came across my news feed – a live shooter in California, at YouTube Headquarters. Identified as Nasim Aghdam, the shooter appears to have become angry at YouTube over new policies that she says reduced her viewership and income drastically. Aghdam is not alone, as I understand it. I just read recently that Dennis Prager, of Prager University is taking legal action against Google/YouTube for the same thing. “The lawsuit cites more than 50 PragerU videos which have either been “restricted” or “demonetized” by Google/YouTube.
There are other examples, like the guy in Boulder, Colorado who billed himself as the “Squirrel Man,” and shot a man in the back over a disagreement about feeding squirrels. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison. Twelve years to ask himself if he might have handled that a bit differently.
What causes some people, like Aghdam, and the Squirrel Man, to take action in the way they did – venomous violence, lethal retaliation, destroying their own lives in the process?
And what is it that motivates another person, like Prager, to take action in the way he did—through legal channels, gathering evidence, putting together a lawsuit to take to the courts for justice?
What in the hearts and minds of these persons led them to their courses of action?
[Note: At this point, I sigh heavily at the need to focus on one point for a blog post. There is so much to think through in this. .. could we just take a few minutes and talk together about despair and how we deal with it? Could we gather over coffee and share how our own hearts sometimes want to lash out at real or perceived injustices? Could we pray together . . . . ?]
My People Perish
The most poignant point for me in these stories is the clear difference in vision, a lack of understanding, a narrow view of options that appear to be at issue here. I am reminded of the cry of a prophet, Hosea, chapter four, verse six, speaking for God: “My people are destroyed because of lack of knowledge,” some translations say “perish for lack of vision.”
When we fall into despair, we will ultimately either lash out or give up, if we never find a way forward in our struggles.
A WGA group member asked me a few weeks ago, “Can your soul give up?” The question is familiar to me, knowing that my own soul becomes sick from time to time, and the same question occurs to me today as I read of Aghdam, Prager, and the Squirrel Man, and the choices they made:
What would the Lord have me do with this despair? Where is His provision for my heart’s cry against injustice? Where is the comfort and hope for me? When will the God of all Comfort, the God of all Hope manifest Himself and rescue me?
Will I Rise Up?
And then I have a choice to make while I wait on His provision. Will I rise up from the ashes of disappointment and disillusionment and do the next right thing I know to do? Or will I continue to nurse the grudge, practice the problem, and rehearse the offenses that I perceive have been perpetrated against me? My experience has been that the inevitable result of the latter choice is ever deepening despair and bitterness.
Been there! Done that! Not going back! Sometimes in a simple shrug of the shoulders and a sigh, I get up, move ahead, tackle the problem in His strength, His way, His timing. Other times in great drama, I hurl myself out of my self-wrestling, and move ahead, tackle the problem in His strength, His way, His timing.
I don’t know of any other way. If there was one, I would take it. But it seems to me that following Jesus away from, out of, into and through, over or under, any circumstance, no matter how painful. . . that has been the way of freedom for me, and the antidote to despair.
And it helps that I have learned that God does care about my wounded heart and the real needs that He created in me. One such reminder is a favorite song performed by Wayne Watson, Friend of a Wounded Heart. “…Jesus, He meets you where you are/ Jesus, He heals your secret scars/ All the love you’re longing for/ Is Jesus, the friend of a wounded heart…”
Mary is one of the founders of Where Grace Abounds and served as Executive Director from its inception on July, 1986 through March 31st, 2007. She speaks and teaches at churches and conferences across the country. She has also served on several boards of non-profit organizations, is a conference speaker on a variety of topics that include: Intimacy with God, Healthy Sexuality, and leadership development. She currently serves in leadership in her denomination. Mary’s favorite ministry roles are discipleship counseling, group facilitation, and leadership development.
Mary often characterizes herself as “a seeker of Truth” and has a long-standing fascination with human behavior and motiviation. Her education consists of lay and discipleship counseling, indepentent study about the integration of psychology and theology, counseling and human sexuality. She also holds a BS in Human Services and an MA in Psychology from Regis University.
Mary attends a Friends (Quaker) Church.
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