Beginning with my sabbatical in August, I realized my emotional state is better when I don’t follow the news, at least in televised format. I’m not the junky I was once, yet the acute troubles of our culture intrude, and these days the headlines are especially disturbing.

Because of my own story, I’m particularly triggered by the multiple reports of sexual misconduct by one of America’s most respected and loved comedians. I feel waves of anger when commentators dismiss how an adult woman can be sexually violated when there was no physical force involved. I cringe when interviewers repeatedly question women about why they didn’t come forward until decades after the events. Ugh!! The hurtful ignorance abounds.

I’m deeply disturbed by racial tension and riots in the streets of Ferguson, MO. As a privileged white woman, I can’t begin to understand the depths of mistrust and persecution (both real and perceived) that plague our culture. My upbringing simply has no construct for choosing to burn down city blocks, no matter the reason. I naively apply my experiences and values to these situations, and thus I, too, am likely part of the systemic problem.

I’m equally troubled when a pack of teens beat a Bosnian immigrant to death with hammers (with almost no resulting outrage) or police use a choke hold to kill a man whose alleged crime was selling cigarettes. Where is the justice in any of these situations?

The flat refusal of politicians of whatever stripe to work together to address our grave issues infuriates me. I’ve totally lost faith in the political system, because it seems to be made up of opinionated, judgmental, uncompromising, largely self-serving people (probably just like me).

The challenges of violence and disease and poverty and hopelessness are overwhelming. Hopeless. Yes, that’s the word. If I dare to peek beyond my own privileged small world that is blessed with safety, trust, heath and love, I feel overwhelmed with hopelessness.

The systemic issues of injustice and generational dysfunction are desperate. The violence is rampant; the solutions impotent. How do we cope with such a sorry world?

And then I remember. God’s promise of a Redeemer was made to a world embroiled in exactly this kind of hopelessness. The Bethlehem stable represented a culture rife with insurmountable problems and systemic weariness.

Like the people of old, I long for that savior to be the kind of king who makes a practical difference in the lives of the oppressed and forlorn. And I suspect I and all of us are intended to be part of that difference.

Marnie C. Ferree