In August, I decided to suspend all personal consumption of news, podcasts, and social media for the month. Normally an avid listener of podcasts, I did not open them on my phone. Normally a daily user of Facebook and Instagram, I deleted the apps. Normally one who keeps up with daily events around the world, I unplugged from all media. Normally a person who discusses news, politics, and pop culture with family and friends regularly, for the month of August, I abstained.
I requested that my family avoid discussions about the news or culture with me for the month. They were very supportive in helping shield me from the headlines, although at times I thought my mom’s head was going to explode if she didn’t vent about some things when I called her. On those occasions, I just held the phone at an arm’s length, waited for a pause on her end, and then changed the subject. My husband would occasionally start to slip up while we were driving somewhere and quickly correct himself. My daughters only commented that I had picked a doozy of a month for this project.
I was well aware that there were still many, many things going on in the world. Even with the self-imposed guard rails in place, it was nearly impossible to remain completely ignorant. Although I knew no details, I deduced that there was some massive something taking place in Afghanistan. Apparently, there were weather disturbances impacting our nation. Of course, there were continuing discussions occurring concerning Covid-19 policies; I heard rumblings of spikes in numbers and the like. That was the one time I searched for information during this media fast. Because I lead a networking group in a nearby area, and I am responsible for making decisions that would impact that group, I checked the latest CDC numbers for that area online once.
During my time away from the news and social media, I expected to develop new skills or hobbies, pursue interests that previously were placed on the back burner, or accomplish a ton of stuff. I regret to inform you that I did not, indeed, learn a new language, or write the great American novel, or learn to crochet. I did manage to prepare a few new recipes with modest success. I touched up an area on one wall that needed paint. The weeds in the garden and back patio were removed. We played more card games together as a family. We discovered some clean comedians to stream. I wrote a few blog posts to share with you. I took advantage of a virtual health coaching program through my husband’s work, and began to work out more frequently.
I also took the opportunity to study my Bible with more intention, opting to read the pages physically rather than on the Bible app. I underlined sentences and marked passages. I made notes in the margins and used the study Bible commentary and maps. I became a little more immersed in it, I realized, rather than just ‘checking the box’ and posting something I had highlighted electronically. Interestingly, August was when my reading plan covered much of the major prophets (the ‘boring part’). “Checking out” online allowed me to be fully engaged in person, and the chronological Bible plan I was following helped me to make connections between different books and timelines and realize that this portion, although not always easy to understand, is anything but boring. I often thought as I was reading that history repeats itself time and time again. The words of the prophets still have applications in our modern world.
Knowing I would be coming back into the world of media on September 1 filled me with a sense of dread in some ways. While I had missed the lively discussions and interesting information presented in the podcasts I enjoyed, I concluded that not every one of them continued to be uplifting or beneficial. While I definitely missed seeing my younger daughter Carolyn’s adventures on Instagram, I wasn’t very keen on continuing to follow other accounts that served only to frustrate me or create disunity. I also decided that it wasn’t in my best interest to return to the vitriolic, divisive environment of other social media outlets, the doom and gloom of daily news, and the general negativity they left in their wake. As of yet, I haven’t returned to many of those listening or viewing activities.
Learning the details of what occurred following my month-long fast from media reminded me that although we may view what’s happening around the world or around our country as chaotic and hopeless at times, God is still sovereign. Nothing that took place in August 2021 was a surprise to Him; in fact, our omniscient God knew what would transpire then since before time began. Reflecting on this, I was reminded of some truths found in God’s word:
In this world we will have trouble. “Wait,” you may be thinking, “I thought you were supposed to be encouraging me!” Can anyone dispute the fact that this world is a troubling place, full of evil, tragedy, and injustice? Even I, a “pollyanna”, don’t see how one could argue against that. Here’s the encouraging part though, if you’re a believer. Jesus assures us Himself in John 16:33 that there’s good news to be found. Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace. In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.” [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.]
We overcome the world when we believe that Jesus is the Son of God. This idea is presented over and over again in the New Testament. Look what 1 John 5:5 tells us: Who is the one who is victorious and overcomes the world? It is the one who believes and recognizes the fact that Jesus is the Son of God. See also Revelation 3:5, 3:21, 2:7, 2:26, 2:17.
There is still hope; that hope is not found in people. Every single human on earth is imperfect. The word tells us that “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”. Psalms 146:3 instructs us, “Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save.” We will never find hope in governments, experts, armies, science, money, or any other human endeavor. Instead, our one true Hope is found in the person of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:3 reminds us, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”.
God purposes will ultimately prevail. Isaiah 46: 9-10 quotes God Himself saying,
“Remember [carefully] the former things [which I did] from ages past;
For I am God, and there is no one else;
I am God, and there is no one like Me,
Declaring the end and the result from the beginning,
And from ancient times the things which have not [yet] been done,
Saying, ‘My purpose will be established,
And I will do all that pleases Me and fulfills My purpose.’”
It is understandably easy to feel like the world is falling apart and that there is no hope to be found. With our eyes focused on the here and now, we are faced with death, destruction, disease, and devastation. In this temporal, material world, we can easily lose sight of the eternal. Remember that God is not bound by time, nor any of His creation, nor by any evil force. He has overcome, we can overcome through Him, His plans will prevail, and they are good.