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Feeling Powerless

Recently I was watching the news about the wildfires on the West Coast. They say that over 4 million acres have burned this year. California has already passed their record for the number of acres burned in a single year with fires still burning. Oregon has passed it average and fires burn in Washington state.

As I watched the news I had a feeling of powerlessness. I want to do something to help but what am I to do. I am not a firefighter nor am I about to become one. I don’t feel called to become a relief worker. These fires burn over 2,500 miles away. What can I do?

Of course, we can and should pray. Sometimes that doesn’t seem like much. Here we must remember that while we might feel powerless, God is not.

I want to do something to help. Yet, in not feeling called or gifted to help in this particular situation (wildfires), I need to remember that while one person can make a difference, one person does not have to do everything. We must remember that as Paul says that we are many parts but one body (see 1 Corinthians 12).

The body has many parts that are not all meant to do the same functions. The hand does not serve the same function as the foot. The eye does not serve the same function as the ear. The heart does not serve the same function as the stomach. Yet, all working together, they are one body.

So, none of us can or need to do everything on our own. We are not supposed to. We are to work together to build up the Kingdom of God and to perform works of mercy to help those in need.

What we have to take to God in prayer is to ask for the gift of good judgment to know what God is calling us to do and to have the courage to do it. Here the Serenity prayer comes to mind.

When we discern that we are not called to respond to a particular situation, our prayer is not done. We are always called to pray for those who are called to respond. This is true for the wildfires as well as the large numbers of tropical storms/hurricanes (also nearing record levels) this year. We can pray for emergency responders, the relief workers, and for the health and safety of all those affected.

There may be times when we feel called to help but we are not sure what to do. At other times we have an idea how to improve a situation but not have the means to execute the idea. Both workers and people with ideas are needed. We pray that God connect the ideas with the people who can put them into action.

Where do you feel powerless in your life? Is it with the wildfires or the storms? Perhaps the Coronavirus? What about violence acts such as mass shootings? How about the issue of racism?

For me, I would say powerlessness centers on two things. The first is things I can’t understand, like why valid protests turn into riots and looting. The second is when I have an idea but people don’t seem to either listen to or understand what I am trying to say. For the former (not understanding), I ask for the serenity to realize I am not going to understand everything. For the latter (others not listening or understanding), I ask for the words I need from God to do what He calls me to do.

Do you feel powerless? Let us pray that God shows each of us what He calls us to do so that together, we build up the Body of Christ.


Fr. Jeff

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