The meme that I share with you here is taken from the Lord of the Rings movie The Return of the King. In the movie when Gondor calls for aid, the nation of Rohan gathers together all their fighting men and rides to battle to aid Gondor. The meme takes that moment and replaces it with the common, modern reaction to disaster and people in need which is to send out “thoughts and prayers.” It is meant to point out the uselessness of merely saying a trite phrase in the face of people that need real help.
Obviously, as a Christian, I believe prayer is powerful and effective. The Bible says so over and over again. (James 5:16, Matt 21:22, etc.) However, the meme is correct to point out the frivolousness of having that be our ONLY response to disaster, tragedy, or violence. In fact, it is clearly and for many people, a cop-out. It is for many a way to make themselves feel better about a bad situation without actually doing anything to help people in real need.
15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? (James 2:15-16)
In the book of James we are reminded that to bless and pray for someone that is hungry without feeding them is not the way we are supposed to respond as Christians. When someone comes to our door and is hungry we don’t respond with hollow words to try to make ourselves feel better. We are to feed them.
As we face a tragedy in the world, we should indeed be offering up our prayers for the well-being of affected people. But we should also be offering real, concrete help to people that have had their lives destroyed. We should be offering financial aid to disaster relief organizations that know what they’re doing and how best to help. We should be volunteering our physical labor and help when it is appropriate and given in a way that actually helps. This is always how we should respond as Christians.
When someone calls for aid, will we merely talk, or will we gather together our people and ride?