Being an informed citizen of the world has the potential to be bad for me. Seriously. Just seeing a news headline can elicit and powerful physiological response. My blood pressure rises and my face gets flushed. Adrenaline pumps through my body and stress responses take over.
My inner compass of justice/integrity/ethics/principles/virtues/morals can become inflamed by another addition to the massive piles of bad news in the world today. An overwhelming sense of hopelessness can begin to wash over me. At times the world feels like a terrible, hopeless place.
Sometimes I wonder what it must have been like to live in my grandparents’ era — when the newspaper landed on the front step to be read in a leisurely fashion over a cup of coffee. Then the rest of the day was its own.
But that’s not how it works today.
Today’s world feels like a constant barrage of unpleasantness. And if you’re like me, the frustration of not being able to “fix” it can become taxing. We can get so consumed with the anger, heartbreak, grief, pity, outrage, petulance of bad news that it’s difficult to find joy in our everyday lives.
News fatigue is a very real problem. And, if we aren’t careful, depression and despair can loom near.
So what can we do?
Here are some tips for staying informed without allowing the world’s tragic events to rob life of its joy:
First Things First
If you get news alerts on your phone, put them on pause when you go to sleep at night. When the first thing you see in the morning is a stack of bad news, you’ll start your day on the wrong foot. Instead, begin your day remembering where your hope comes from. Read scripture that reminds you that the world is not hopeless. Declare God’s goodness in the morning so that the enemy cannot use the bad news of the day to lead you into despair.
“For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.” I Timothy 4:10
Manage Your Exposure
While it may feel like you don’t have any control over what you hear—you do. You have the power to turn off the radio in the car and listen to a CD instead. You can choose to pause news notifications and only read the news when you decide. You are fully able to turn off the television. You can even tell your coworkers that you just don’t want to talk about current events right now.
This doesn’t mean that it’s right to completely block out the world and live under a rock (although it’s tempting!). But you can decide how and when to expose yourself to the news so that you can handle it in a healthy manner. Even Jesus got away from the rest of the world at times and set boundaries for himself.
“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Luke 5:16
Respond with Prayer
When the world seems out of control, remember that we serve a God who is very much in control. He has promised to hear the prayers of his people, so tell him about your burdens. War. Political upheaval. Child safety. Human trafficking. Terrorism. Financial crises. Climate change. Religious conflict. Education. Health problems. Grief. Pain. Sorrow.
The list goes on and on. But we can be assured that the God who made the world is listening to our prayers. He is trustworthy. Even if it doesn’t feel like anything is changing, he hears and he answers.
Romans 12:12 reminds us to “rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”
Of course, you can’t do everything. But you can do something. Even just something small. Volunteer. Get involved. Donate to a righteous cause. Make an impact. Write to your senators and representatives. Love people as Jesus did. Making a difference to just one person will make a difference in the world and give you a sense of power over darkness.
“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58
Look for the Good
It’s harder to see, but good things are certainly happening in the world. Find them! Seek extra hard to find sources of joy in the midst of sorrow. Ask your Christian friends to share with you the good things God is doing in their lives so you can rejoice with them. Subscribe to a blog that offers positivity.
Be thankful. A thankful heart counteracts the work of the enemy. Counting your blessings isn’t just something trite your grandma used to say. It’s a life skill for survival!
“Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:20
Let It Go
You weren’t meant to carry the burdens of the entire world on your shoulders. When you hear about the problems of the world you can: intercede with prayer, do something good, and let God handle the rest. Breathe deeply and move on with your
“These things I have spoken to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Today’s world can be a mentally and emotionally exhausting place to live. But we do have choices. We can start each day focusing on our God, setting boundaries around ourselves, turning problems over in prayer, doing something positive, being thankful for what is good, and letting go of the rest.