Forsaken by God

Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you. -Psalm 9:10

God never forsakes those who trust him. So it is tempting to conclude when we feel forsaken that we have insufficient faith or we haven’t sought him enough. But Jesus himself felt forsaken: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” It was not because he lacked faith or did not seek his Father’s will enough. Nor was it because his Father abandoned him. It was because the trial he faced, he had to face without feeling his Father’s presence. Sometimes God asks us to face trials where we cannot sense his presence. We feel abandoned. We feel forsaken. He asks us to keep on trusting him despite how we feel. He will not upbraid us if we cry out, “Why have you forsaken me?” If Jesus could ask this question without sin, we can do the same.

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The Dangers of Outrage

It’s hard not to be outraged by news on the Internet. Sites dependent on advertising revenue use just a few tricks to drive user engagement (measured by time on site, likes and shares on social media, and clicks to related content). Headlines framed as questions (Is Google the New Evil Empire?), links that tell readers how they will feel (You will be shocked…), and, of course, content designed to provoke outrage are all angling for your attention. So much of what passes for news on the Internet seems to be aimed at our reptilian brains—provoking fear, anger, or lust.

The further you get from established, mainstream news, the more likely you are to see content framed in such a way as to provoke outrage. If you are a Facebook junkie like me, then you already know which of your friends can be counted on to share the most outrageous articles. Outrage is a response; sometimes it’s easy to forget that it’s not the only response.

Outrage is not a benign response. It may raise your blood pressure or make you hot under the collar. It may elevate your stress level, but there are more pernicious effects. To feel moral outrage, especially, requires a belief in one’s own decency, a belief that starts with, “I would never do…” or “How can anyone…” Implicit is the belief that I and my tribe are morally superior. Those people who have done despicable things are from a different tribe, perhaps different enough that they don’t deserve humane treatment.

This is where outrage becomes really ugly. Not content with denouncing bad behavior, I may even condone violence done to avenge it. This may take the form of hateful speech or comments or mere silence when I see “those people” getting what they deserve. Will I speak up for them if their own rights are trammelled? Outrage leaves little room for mercy.

The greatest danger of outrage, however, is that it accomplishes nothing. Sure, I might share a post about some miscarriage of justice, and it’s gratifying to find that my friends agree with me, but it takes real work and sacrifice to correct and prevent injustice. Outrage feels like enough, but it isn’t.

 

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Some Observations About Children

I have six children. Most are grown now, so I’ve had the opportunity to see them go from infancy to adulthood. Here are a few things I’ve learned.

  1. Young children prefer bland food. The younger they are, the more they prefer bland food. A toddler will happily eat a slice of white bread or a bowl of plain rice or a slice of bologna. Adults prefer more complex fare, and we often don’t understand why kids like food that seems so uninteresting. One reason may be that children’s taste receptors are more sensitive than adults. Some studies seem to confirm it.
  2. Children are all about that bass. Children can hear high frequencies better than adults. This lasts into young adulthood. In fact, some business owners have broadcast high-pitched sounds to drive away teens. Teens may have the last laugh, though. They have added ringtones to their smartphones inaudible to their teachers. Because they hear high frequencies better, they are always turning up the bass to match the volume of the highs they hear so well. Adults may find this irritating.
  3. Tired children are completely irrational. Do not attempt to reason with a tired child. This may be true for some adults, too. If you encounter a recurring issue requiring correction, do not address it with a tired child. It will quickly escalate into a full-scale donnybrook. Pick a time when both of you are rested and refreshed. Keep the conversation reasonable and low-key. Listen to understand. Like everyone else, children want respect and experience being loved primarily as being respected.

I may add to this as time permits.

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