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All day long, I have felt a bit paralyzed by the news coming out of Aleppo. The scale of the evil somehow keeps growing, and I confess I am tempted to despair. Or to tune out. It would be so easy to turn off the news and finish my Christmas shopping.

I imagine a lot of us are feeling that way about Aleppo. Overwhelmed. Desperate. Helpless. If that’s you, here are three action steps you can take (and if you have other suggestions, please include them in the comments section!):

1. Pray.

I challenge you to fast and pray. I say this not as a cliché Christian thing to do, and not as an alternative to action. For the people of God, this is our action. Prayer is important, effective work, so pray for peace. Pray against the powers and principalities which have seized hold of the city. Pray for aid workers to get food and supplies to those who need it. Pray that God’s comforting presence would be felt by children cowering in fear. Pray for courage and discernment from our leaders. Pray against apathy in ourselves. Pray for an end to this evil, and ask God how you can be an instrument of hope and rescue.

2. Give

There are a number of organizations doing great work, so consider supporting one (or three!) financially.

Preemptive Love Coalition

Mercy USA

UN Human Rights Office

White Helmets

Doctors Without Borders

Hand in Hand for Syria

3. Embrace the Ministry of Helplessness

I know this is a weird “action step,” but I think it might be one of our greatest defenses against despair. This idea comes from my friend Amy Julia Becker, who had this to say about Advent, and the story of God becoming a vulnerable child:

“How on earth was God willing to trust himself to human beings? To trust that even the best of them–let’s assume Mary and Joseph were the best–would actually do a decent job?…Over and over again, he entrusts himself to us. The posture of helplessness is a holy one, somehow.”

I think she’s right. The story of Christmas is the story of God taking hold of helplessness, making it His, and transforming it into something powerful. When we feel helpless, we step into that formula. In our helplessness, we join company with Christ, and we are given an opportunity to become more like him. I’ll admit it’s a mystery I don’t understand, but it is one that I trust. If God can turn helplessness into cosmic rescue, He can use our helplessness too.

As I said, if you have more action steps, please share them below. I would love to hear them. But most of all, please do not grow weary in doing good. We were put on this planet to give a darn, and right now, the stakes are very high. Keep going, keep fighting the good fight, and keep living as if the light is winning…because it is.

Screen Shot 2013-10-01 at 9.59.09 PMSharon




  • Bonnie Lent-Davis says:

    I especially love and appreciate Point 3 on feeling helpless. I find this often as a Christian lawyer and Christ follower. I have other friends who are feeling helpless in many different types of situations and your point 3 will help them I believe. I will share to encourage those friends. I look forward to your book! I live just outside Grand Rapids MI, the home of Baker Books! Congrats!

  • Krista Stubbs says:

    Thank you for these beautiful words and suggestions for action. I have shared them with each one of my classes today (I teach at a Catholic school) and we appreciate this post greatly!

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