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What Can A Person Do? By Pastor Thomas Engel

When sitting down to watch our favorite television shows, we know that we have to sit through commercials.

Since we have to see commercials, I try to make the best of them.

I’m sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for Liberty Mutual commercials that feature the latest adventures of Emu and Doug.

Since Marie Osmond and I are the same age, I’m interested in her commercials for Nutrasystem. She looks so good in those commercials that I’ve thought that I could look that good if I used Nutrasystem.

But, I’ve haven’t yet signed-up. I’m still deep in my Doordash phase.

And, I can’t wait for the latest gizmo that goes for $19.99, and if your order now, you get a second one for just the cost of shipping.

There are commercials that I reach for the remote and mute. Those commercials are the ones that are for charities.

At first, I know I might be sounding rather cold that I don’t want to hear these commercials asking to support charities.

The commercials for these different charities are for causes that I support. I’m for helping animals that have been abused, veterans who have been wounded fighting for this country, people who are hungry because of poverty, children who are suffering because they lack good health care, and families who have lost loved ones who have died serving in the line of public duty.

What I am saying is that I’m feeling I’m getting a case of compassion fatigue by constantly seeing and hearing about the wrongs of the world.

These commercials are quite dramatic. How many times do I have to see videos of a small dog shivering in the cold? Or how many times do I have to see children who have birth defects that can be easily fixed with good health care, but they are left to keep suffering if I don’t help?

It’s all heartbreaking as I see the neglect, injustice, and oppression that’s in the world before me in my living room as I sit down to relax and watch my favorite television show.

These charities ask for money to support their causes for less than it costs for a cup of coffee per day.

The amount of money is doable for my budget. I can sign-up for a few charities, and the automatic withdraws would be hardly noticed with some spending adjustments.

But, there are other worthwhile charities. Do I sign-up for them, too?

To tell the truth, I see that the list of issues that could use my attention is getting longer and not shorter.

What wagon of issues do I jump on to help solve? When I see my monthly bank statement with all the withdraws for charities, do I pat myself on the back because I’m such a good guy? How should I be feeling that I’m doing my part to solve the world’s problems? How do I know I know I’m doing enough of my part to help?

How much guilt should I be feeling if I don’t answer all the cries for help? I know it’s just a price of coffee per day, but the cost of all those cups of coffee can add up.

I have to admit that I get compassion fatigue, and I feel bad about it, especially with so much wrong going on from close to home to far away.

But, what can a person do?

As I sit and watch see the commercials for charities, I feel like it’s best to be like those monkeys that see and hear no evil. Those monkeys are not taking any part in helping others, but at least they are not contributing to evil.

In other words, I will just mind my own business, and to my credit, I’m at least not part of the problem. I do my part by living a good life that doesn’t bother anyone.

In this world of so many troubles, it’s easy to willfully to turn our backs on those troubles.

It just doesn’t seem like the world is getting any better.

So, here I’m standing on the edge of despair with asking, “What’s the use?”

And I’m feeling that tension that I’m to be a servant, but this serving others can get real messy with so much conflict in trying to find real solutions.

Or, on the other hand, in this world of so many troubles, it’s easy to want to help in every trouble. That’s what caring people do. We are empathetic and want to serve others.

I mean I want to be saying, “Let’s get out there and give the world what it needs- justice fighters, healers, and peace-keepers.”

Looking at this troubled world, it may sound strange, but I find relief in knowing that Jesus had his frustrations with trying to help the world.

When he went back to his hometown to teach about God’s kingdom, the townspeople wanted to throw him off the cliff.

When Jesus healed ten lepers, only one came back to give him thanks.

When Jesus fed thousands of people, he found that many came only for the bread and not for his teaching about God’s kingdom.

When Jesus was walking with his disciples, he overheard them talking about who was the greatest among them.

When Jesus was talking with the religious leaders, they didn’t want to hear the truth, but they accused Jesus of false teaching.

When Jesus was before Pilate as a criminal, Pilate had no idea that Jesus was the Christ, even with all the evidence that he was.

When Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane before his arrest, Jesus prayed to his Father to remove the suffering that was ahead of him. But, Jesus did go to the cross to suffer and die for the sins of the world because it was His Father’s will.

When Jesus was on the cross, we know he did suffer greatly for us in our place.

When Jesus needed a friend, the closest people to him denied him, betrayed him, and ran from him.

To sum up Jesus’ ministry, people took Jesus for granted, saw him as a threat, didn’t try to understand the depth of his teachings, and his closet followers left him to face hateful people all alone.

We do want to be sure to understand that Jesus had his good days, too. Jesus did heal and teach many people, and many did come to have faith.

It’s here knowing that Jesus himself had good and bad days in a troubled world that we can ask, “Was God’s grace over Jesus all the time during his time on earth?”

Thinking about the soldiers beating Jesus makes me think that God turned his back on Jesus. How can God let His own beloved Son go through that kind of suffering?

Going back to Jesus’ earlier days of his ministry, how can nine out of the ten lepers who were healed not thank Jesus? Was God’s grace on that healing to have it not turn out where those nine got healed and also the received the gift of faith?

Don’t get me wrong, I am sadly disappointed that the nine lepers did not come back to Jesus, but it shows to me that Jesus was not always successful.

Well, we can say it was not successful as we would call it, but we can say it turned out according to God’s plan.

Like in today’s Gospel reading, Jesus is talking to a rich man who is a good man, but Jesus sees that this man is too attached to his things.

So, Jesus says that this man needs to give up all of his stuff and follow his Lord and Savior, who is right there in front of him.

What an opportunity for this young man to spend close time with Jesus Christ. But, the man chooses all of his things instead.

Again, it’s not that I’m trying to point out where Jesus didn’t have things work out well, but to say, that all things are done by God’s grace.

In God’s grace, all things are perfectly good. So, in all of this perfect goodness, the outcomes of everything have meaning and purpose that is always beneficial.

What can a person do to help this world of such troubles?

We can do what we always do we live by the grace of God.

So, when we see troubles in the world, we can still know the all is going according to God’s plan.

From a human standpoint, we see a world that is going out of control with violence. From a human standpoint, we see many social ills. From a human standpoint, we sorrow and pain in many people’s lives.

We are not to willfully turn from the heartaches of the world, but we don’t turn to them from a human standpoint, either.

If we turned to them from a human standpoint, we would just get frustrated because we would see how overwhelming the troubles are.

From a human standpoint, we think we can fix everything.

But, we find that humans only mess things up.

By the grace of God, we get news that is not pleasant. We find that this world of troubles are because of humans who sin.

Poor or rich, we are all at the bottom when it comes to sin.

This unpleasant news comes from God’s grace because we can also by grace turn to God for forgiveness of sin.

Imagine a world where everyone turned to God for forgiveness of sin, and then each person lived free from sin. Each person lived out his or her life only by God’s grace.

To be sure, we are called to be servants to each other and to help those in need. But, our first calling is to come to God as a sinner in need of forgiveness.

By the grace of God, we come as sinners, and we go out forgiven of every sin to serve by the grace of God.

What is a person to do in this troubled world of so many needs?

We do as always do.

With no doubt, we see a troubled world-with so many troubles.

Although we live in the midst of troubles, we don’t live by them-meaning we don’t let them dominate or consume us, so that they control us.

What can a person do?

We live, we make, we do, we speak, we act, we move, and we care, for we trust that all things are coming together by God’s grace.

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