On February 1, 2021 a military coup occurred in Naypyidaw, the capital of Myanmar. Like so many other recent events, this coup feels surreal. Why though? I don’t have any special connection to the country. It is simply one more problem in one more place. And I, who have no influence or authority, can do little about it. Maybe this is why it feels surreal. For me it is one more thing to add to the ever-increasing, anxiety-inducing pile of trauma that plays on an endless loop in my mind and on a screen.
For years, researchers have been aware that negative news tends to more easily capture our attention. A new term “doomscrolling” refers to the screen habit of consuming massive amounts of dystopian news. This habit produces isolation, depression, anxiety, guilt, and fear.
I’m drawn like a moth to a flame of bad news. Maybe you have the same condition. But for just a moment, I want to give us a glimpse of something else.
In 2 Kings 6 the prophet Elisha is surrounded by an army sent to capture him. Elisha’s servant sees the army and is afraid so Elisha says, “Don’t be afraid, those that are with us are greater than those who are with them.” Then he asks God to open his servant’s eyes to the full reality. The servant sees a different army, an army of horses and chariots of fire. God’s army is all around them.
There is more to see. If only we would have our eyes opened. This is exactly what Jesus came to do (see Isaiah 42:7 and Luke 7:18-22). In the gospels, Jesus talking to the disciples about the crowds gathered says that their hearts have grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed. But if they would see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, then Jesus would heal them. (Matthew 13:15) Jesus is in the business of getting senseless people’s attention, so that they would understand, turn and be healed.
Every now and then something incredible captures our attention. Maybe you heard about the eyewitness footage of the Myanmar coup. It doesn’t seem like it could be real, but it is. Fitness instructor Khing Hnin Wai was doing what she had been doing for the past year, recording herself doing an aerobics routine on the main road leading to the parliament building. As she’s dancing, a dozen black vehicles in the background approach a roadblock, pause momentarily and then proceed on their way to carry out the coup. She uploaded the video to Facebook only later realizing what she had inadvertently captured. And now the video has gone viral.
This video of a woman dancing while seemingly oblivious to the coup has captured the attention of the world for a moment. What is capturing your attention? Are you doomscrolling through life? Do you need healing for the endless loop of trauma? Are you numb to everything around you? Jesus wants your attention, and if you give it to Him, understand and turn, then He will heal you.