In November 2014, I asked the question, "Does God keep us safe?" where I analyze the question in view of a dangerous world. And we still live in a dangerous world. In just 2 years, some of the threats have gone away only to be replaced by new threats. I think of the terror attacks and threats that I hear on the news. And my reaction nowadays is to say, "I'm numb to it." Numb can mean "deprived of physical sensation or the ability to move" or "incapable of action or of feeling emotion; enervated; prostrate" or "lacking or deficient in emotion or feeling; indifferent" (Source: Dictionary.com). Do you ever feel that way? And I'm not talking physically, but emotionally, even spiritually. In view of the bad news, is it okay to not move or feel no emotion or be indifferent? In view of trials, are we just to throw up our hands and say, "Whatever! I don't care!" In short, the answer is "No."
I must defend myself a bit, however, in saying, "I'm numb." I know that those "big" threats out there are out of my control and there is little I can do. I also know that getting passionately worried about them is not fruitful. I also know that I am to trust God in His Sovereignty. If it is my time to go, it is my time to go. However, I dare not volunteer to step in front of a Mack Truck. I am still to be a good steward of life. That is what is behind my being "numb."
Yet, I have cautions for myself and others. If my numbness turns off my emotion to another, making me indifferent, then I become uncaring for others. Romans 12:15 (NASB) says, "Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep." If I am numb, I won't rejoice or weep. Relationship suffers. Ministry suffers. Others suffer. I suffer. You suffer. We are to come along side of others and walk with them through pain and triumph. Writing about the Body of Christ, Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 12:26 (NASB), "And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it." Do you rejoice with those who rejoice? Do you mourn with those who mourn?
If my numbness renders me unmoving, then I fail to serve my purpose. If I am numb then I won't minister to others. James 1:27 (NASB) says, "Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world." I'll admit I fail at this at times. However, that's what God's Word says. If I see someone in need and I am able to help, then I should. It doesn't matter how small the act is. If you are in Christ, you are to be a living sacrifice, serving where you will. Your service may not be working at an orphanage or donating thousands of dollars. And it doesn't have to be. Your service may be simply listening to someone suffering, touching a hand, giving a smile or a kind word. Whatever it is, that is between you and God, not for show. Matthew 6:2-4 (NASB) has Jesus' words on the matter:
So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
You may think about what you don't have, but we all have something to contribute. Consider Luke 21:1-4 (NASB):
And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury. And He saw a poor widow putting in two small copper coins. And He said, "Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all of them; for they all out of their surplus put into the offering; but she out of her poverty put in all that she had to live on."
We all have something to give! What matters is your heart! 2 Corinthians 9:7 (NASB) says, "Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." The word cheerful in the Greek is hilaron (ιλαρòν) from which we get the word hilarious. The word means "joyful" and "cheerfully ready" (Source: BibleHub). What does hilarious mean? Do you hilariously give out of what you have? Again, it may not be money. It may be simply listening to someone suffering, touching a hand, giving a smile or a kind word. Give what you have hilariously. Don't be numb.
If my numbness desensitizes me, then I fail to be a light. I fail to decide on good things. And if I don't decide, then in a sense I do. If I don't decide to do what's right, to act on what is right, then I decide to practice laziness and fail to resist darkness. The Bible says in James 1:22 (NASB): "But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves." Giving in to desentization, giving in to numbness, can open the door to more darkness. It will become easier to be lazy, easier to not care, easier to just let the enemy have his way. This can result in what is called a "seared conscience." The Bible speaks of this in 1 Timothy 4. In verses 1 and 2, the Word says, "But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron" (NASB). Think of being seared. If someone's skin is seared, what happens? It forms scar tissue. Growth is hindered. It looks different. The same thing is true of the conscience. According to Bible Questions Answered, "If the conscience is 'seared' -- literally 'cauterized' -- then it has been rendered insensitive. Such a conscience does not work properly; it's as if 'spiritual scar tissue' has dulled the sense of right and wrong." That will render the Christian ineffective as growth is hindered and witness compromised. This is the extent to which numbness can go.
Rather, don't be numb. Consider Paul's words to Timothy in 1 Timothy 1:18-19 (NASB):
This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you fight the good fight, keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith.
Are you shipwrecked in regard to your faith? Have you been numb? Go to the Shipbuilder and tell Him about it. Jesus will restore you if you are in Him. Don't fear. He waits for you to approach and if you are in Christ, you can do so with confidence.
So, I urge you (and myself) to not be numb. I encourage you to realize that fretting is not fruitful, that God is Sovereign and that we are to be good stewards of life and in life, not just our own life, but the lives of others. In this world of danger, fret not. Rather, reach out to others and come along side of them. And while you don't fret over the circumstances, act with a heart to God and a hand to man.