Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Are We Blind?

I think I mentioned I am doing a Beth Moore Esther study in Sunday School right now.  This past week we were in Esther chapter 3 where Haman, out of anger and bitterness, births a plan to rid the kingdom of all the Jews.  He goes before King Ahasuerus and uses several tactics to bring his plan to fruition.  One of his tactics is to keep the Jews impersonal, anonymous, abstract.  He tells the King, "There is a certain people...."

Beth Moore writes the following, "The phrase 'a certain people' in Esther 3:8 can also be translated 'one people.' Haman's phraseology insinuates:  'Your empire embraces many peoples. One of them (just ONE, no big deal) is peculiar and different....Haman alludes to the Jews in vague terms, making them anonymous, indefinite and depersonalized.  It is easier to kill an abstraction than a person.  God calls us by name. Satan and his hordes see us as numbers, illustrated chillingly by the identification tattoos of Jews in Hitler's death camps."

I think Beth Moore makes a good and valid point:  it is much easier to allow tragedy to occur when it is abstract.  I see this in my own life and in present day.  When I hear of a war or of a natural disaster, it is harder to feel the empathy and compassion because it is just a number, just a statistic.  It doesn't devastate my life, it is just a piece of information.  Why?  Not because it wasn't a huge catastrophe but because it is impersonal. I didn't experience it. I don't know anyone affected by it.  I don't see the pictures or know the stories or names of people hurt and killed.

One personal example is that of Korea.  Before we moved here, I (of course) knew a little bit about North and South Korea but not a lot. I knew of the separation, I knew of the  communist rule and that the people there were living in tragic conditions. But I didn't think of it often and wasn't very affected by it. It was impersonal to me. I could find Korea on a map if I studied for a while (I knew it was somewhere in Asia, near China, right?) but I couldn't go right to it and I knew little about it.  I for sure never planned to live there!  But since moving here, I have started to learn more and more about the situation here:  the war, the poverty, the leaders, juche, the personality cult etc.  And you better believe every time the war here in Korea is in the news, we are interested! Why? Because it is personal now. We live here.  If we are attacked or go to war, it is going to impact us!  The impersonal has become personal.

And I see this same ploy at work today.  I think satan is influencing us and our world in the same way he used Haman to influence the King. He is at work making our eyes (and hearts) blind by keeping things impersonal. It's easy for many of us to live our lives, concerned with ourselves.  Not that there is anything wrong with living the life we have, with caring for our own families, our own kids and husbands, our own grandkids or our own pets.  There is nothing wrong with this (these are our God-given roles!) and the Bible mandates it (1 Tim. 5:8).  It is the life the Lord has given us.  But I think when we get entirely wrapped up in our own life and our individual "bubble," it is easy to become blind to the needs of the world.  It is easy to turn it all off because it is impersonal and it doesn't directly impact us.  I can go on living my life, caring for my son, planning my weekly play dates and meal plans, going to church every Sunday and small group and I can be blind to the tragedy around me, to the broken world "out there."

I hear about orphans, I know there are an estimated 163,000,000 orphans living without families or the care they need, I know there are needs.  But it is so often impersonal. It's just a number. It's just a statistic.  It's just a fact of life:  there are children without families.  I hear about poverty, I know there are people around the world suffering without food, shelter, clothes, clean water. I know there are needs. But it is so impersonal. It's just a statistic, a fact of life.  I hear about abortion.  I know there are millions of abortions done each year. But it is hard to make it real, to make it personal.  I hear all of these things yet I go on living my life.  I pray for them when I remember.  We sponsor a Compassion child, we talk about the tragedies of these realities, but how much does it really affect us?  How do we live a life changed because of theses horrors?

What do we do about it?

This third chapter of Esther has stuck with me in a personal, real-life way as I think of the many ways our eyes and hearts are kept blind from the realities of the world.  How Satan likes to keep it impersonal and at a distance. The many easy ways to turn it off, to turn our backs and to continue living "our" life.  I feel this is a huge tactic in his grand scheme.  It's so easy to look at King Ahasuerus and think how dumb was he?!?  But then I look at my own life and can see the same forces at work still today.

Keeping things nondescript, faceless and depersonalized makes it a lot easier to deal with and a lot easier to NOT deal with.  It makes the idea of adoption an easy word to throw around and a "nice thing" to do. It makes it an "option to consider" and a "someday I'll think about it." But as Steve and I have continued to think about it, talk about it and pray over it, we've also been researching and reading!  The more pictures we see, the more blogs we read, the more stories we cry over, the harder it is to stay in the "considering it" phase and the harder it is not to take action.  As I start to pour over image after image of children and see the personal face of one after another left to sit in a crib or left to cry and not be comforted or left to go without another meal it has become a lot more real and a lot more personal.  When you look at lists of "waiting" children, with faces and names and birth dates, all of a sudden it isn't abstract or anonymous.  

And as it has moved from an abstract word - "adoption" "orphan" "poverty" - to reality - with names and faces and stories - it becomes harder to let go of.  It's harder to stop thinking about.  It's easier to pray, often.  It's right before our eyes, daily, instead of an annual sermon on Orphan Sunday. 

I don't know where the Lord is leading with all of this. I know He isn't allowing this topic to go away. I know He is slowly overcoming all my fears and selfish reasons for not opening our home.  I know He has given me a husband who has been praying for almost 4 years that I would be ready to adopt. I know He is gripping my heart with a desire for another child and with the possibility of adoption.

I do not think adoption is something that everyone should do. I'm not saying that or even thinking it. It isn't for everyone.  But I do believe that caring for the orphans is something every single Believer is called to do (James 1:27).  I would encourage you to join us in putting it before yourself on a regular basis, in personal terms.  Don't allow these big "issues" drive you to turn your back in defeat.  Let's not allow the lie "we are only one person, what can we really do?"  Let's not allow the lies of anonymity to blind us.  Help us not to be so full of "our own lives" that we are blind to those around us and miss our opportunities to make a difference in someone else's life.