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We need more than a distraction
I told my wife that I was frustrated that “covfefe” was already in the autocorrect in my phone just a few days after the President’s infamous Tweet.
The President’s midnight Tweet had the whole press corps spinning the next morning, and as all things on the Internet go, the memes flowed. And the President had fun with his gaffe too. And here I am again, feeding the meme. That’s a problem. My friends told me it was a distraction and we shouldn’t focus on nonsense. Was it intentional? Was the President trying to distract us from all the problems surrounding his administration and the world?
To be honest, I thought this would last a day. But then the memes kept rolling in. Just a few days ago, a Covfefe bill was introduced to Congress! The meme won’t die! I asked someone why it wouldn’t die. And while it probably wasn’t an intentional attempt from the President, my friend said, we just needed a break. A break from it all.
If you pay attention, it’s super easy to be inundated with a tremendous volume of information. The world is a mess and there is a lot of people writing and talking about it. There’s a whirlwind of crazy politics (FBI Director get fires, Russia interfering with U.S. elections, unpredictable UK vote). Then there’s Bill Maher dropping the N-word and then defending himself. You may have seen the story about Kathy Griffin too. The Middle East is still up in flames. There is violence in the UK, including at a concert for teenagers. Does a day go by where we start to question the future of the world? It is all going to hell in a hand basket?
Without hope, especially hope in the systems that so often promise us it, it can be so easy to despair. Our election officials campaign on bringing us salvation, and when we see the results, it’s hard not to just get cynical. In our despair, we manufacture hope out of thin air, like the leftists in the UK praising Corbyn’s success as if it were the Second Coming.
And so in our pain and confusion, it can be fun to laugh it off, to watch late night TV, and see what the comedians are saying about it. We need light-heartedness. We need fun. If our hope is in the aforementioned mess, we need to be distracted.
There are many ways we are distracted and many ways we cope with our pain. Some of them are innocent, others could actually be deadly.
You could try to perfectly live your life, delicately balancing your screen time with your reading time. You could meditate. Try yoga out. Start psychotherapy. Exercise more. As Radiohead said a few decades ago, you could strive to be “Fitter, Happier.”
I’m not so sure those things will give us the hope that we need, though. Some of them are wonderful, but without relating to the ultimate Comforter, I think those activities lose their context. And they’ll wear off. And our existential dread will creep back in.
I turn to Jesus, not to memes, to find my fulfillment. I don’t need to be distracted, I need to be saved. My elected leaders aren’t doing it. The world is in on fire. I need a savior. And the work doesn't end with being saved, but it gives me hope to do the things that will change the world. I love what Reverend Barber is telling Trevor Noah here. We need the hope of Jesus and we need to spread it to the world; not just in thought or even in our feelings, but in our actions. The world is full of trouble, Jesus conquered the world. We are now his Body doing the same work.
And I know, part of the problem is that this savior has some followers that make following him harder. The Southern Baptists couldn’t even denounced white supremacy the other day. And now I’m talking about Jesus?
Jesus is my hope and how I can work through all of this. And even though I enjoy the memes, I know I have hope beyond their temporary distraction. I hope you find that kind of hope among us, among our cells, our Sunday meetings. I invite you to even try if you’re feeling the despair and the memes aren’t cutting it.