• Ben Hershey

Hearing the Hurting.

Updated: Sep 15, 2020

So far in 2020 we have seen a life treating pandemic, economic collapse, the death of Kobe Bryant, impeachment trials, horrific video clips of tragic events and even violent riots. Today, our world is crying out for healing. Brokenness has never been so evident, and we are not even halfway through this year.

So…What is the cause? Why is there all this pain now? Burning Buildings and Angry Mobs? Hugs are frown-upon, as are conversations from within six feet. You are almost a criminal if you decide not to wear a face mask. There is indeed something in the air.

Throughout this strange and difficult season, we haven’t had a break for the constant stream of strong opinions, shared and re-shared by more people with even stronger opinions. Information gets taken out of context and spreads like wildfire.

“This Virus is no big deal. They’re making this so much more serious than it actually is.” “No Justice. No Peace. The riots are necessary for change.” “You can’t trust that information, it's from CNN and they always twist it.”

The reason? A gapping difference in perspective. What our world is truly missing in this heart-breaking season, is empathy.

People get hurt, offered, and angry when something they truly value gets violated or even when it is taken lightly. When something important to one person isn’t talked about, there is no way to reach understanding and, slowly, over time, tension rises. Tension builds and builds until it climaxes into tragedy. All could be have been avoided with a simple conversation.

You see, there is a constant flood of information everywhere you look, and your personal values, beliefs, and perspective determine the information that you see. Who you decide to follow determines the perspective you hear. There is no open debate, or mutual understanding, no conversation. Because of social media, were all in our own little echo chamber. And now, not only is everyone with an opinion sharing it, but each person is practically forced to make a statement or the worst is assumed. We have too many people talking just to talk, and it is only contributing to the noise. What would happen if we all just…listened?

We are missing the point of the people rioting. We are missing the point of government decisions. People are hurting and people are refusing to set aside their own agenda to create peace. Sharing your opinion on social media isn’t going to resolve conflict, it isn’t going to calm a riot or change government action. There is a difference from intentionally working toward justice and contributing to the noise. You want to make a real difference?? listen.

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. - James 1:19-20

Everyone has a limited perspective, built upon year after year of their own culture. Your family’s values, your role model’s lifestyles, your favorite movies and books all build your world view. All these stories and experiences shape how we think, and each person has a unique perspective on every single event that has ever occurred.

Guess what! In your opinion, your own opinion is correct. Every single time. That does not make your opinion actually true. That does not discredit another opinion.  That is only your understanding, one tiny tip of your very own iceberg of beliefs, values, and experiences.

A person’s opinion is just the tiny tip of a massive iceberg made up of years of established values, beliefs, and experiences. There is no reasoning. Beliefs and values are inherently emotional. This makes them incredibly sensitive. People are being asked a tiny question like: Should stores be allowed be open during this pandemic? To the small business owner struggling, of course. It feels essential for the owner in order to make enough to survive.

But what about the elderly couple who is scared to go for a walk for the potential of getting sick with illness that could end their life? Is it better for them to live stuck inside, trapped in fear? Isn’t it better to ensure safety for some and sacrifice the business temporarily? (No bias was purposeful in this example.)

What’s the most important thing? That is the real question. Your answer is likely way different than the person six feet to your left.

Conflicting values cause conflict. What’s more important: Justice or Peace? Safety or Freedom? What about another’s values or your own? Do you give another person’s perspective the same credit that you give your own? or do you immediately write off any disagreement as false? or flawed? or illogical? or heartless? Stop. Listen. Understand.

Whole-heartily consider another perspective. Understand the emotions people are feeling. Empathize with them. We all want the same thing. We want healing to arise, justice to be served, we want wholeness restored, and it is coming. We want peace. And there is only one place to find true peace.

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33

It is not our job to solve anything. We do want peace. We do want Justice. We all do. Peace is found in trusting the Holy One who has authority over the hearts of the brokenhearted, authority over the life and death of the coronavirus, authority over angry mobs, economic recession, and so much more. Let’s trust in him.

And in the meantime, let’s listen with compassion. It’s more important to have a dialogue than it is to be seen as right. I’m not asking for anyone to remain silent. In fact, that is the very opposite of what I am asking.

“Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.” -Proverbs 31:9

Silence often only leads confusion, resentment, and heartbreak. We need more conversations. More questions. More intentional communication and action. Most of all, we need consideration. We need empathy. We need to understand the other side, the other perspective, the other opinion. We do not need to agree with some else’s perspective, but we do need to hear it and feel what they feel. Our current circumstances in this broken world has surfaced deep wounding and pain in a great variety of different peoples, all with different values. Let each of us extend grace to the hurting through actually hearing. And actually caring. With Grace & Peace, Ben H.

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