An Endless Supply of Internet Guilt

Sometimes being on the Internet can be an overwhelming experience.

I get on Facebook and see that different people need prayer. So I try to pray for them. Then I start reading blogs and I see different articles that are sad and sobering. A man in Afghanistan is going to be executed for his faith. Abortion has reached new, sickening levels. The United States government is trying to pass laws that could potentially thwart the gospel. A little girl has cancer and needs prayer. A ministry needs more support. Sex trafficking is spiraling out of control.

Many of the blogs and articles contain appeals for help.

What am I supposed to do with all this? I want to pray, to help, to do something. But I’m limited, and I’ve got lots of friends in my own church who are also in tough situations too. That’s why being on the Internet can be a guilt-inducing experience for me. I suddenly become aware of all that I’m not doing.

I think Galatians 6:10 is a helpful verse in this regard.

So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

God calls me to do good, as I have opportunity. I am not called to meet every need. I’m not called to solve every problem. I serve a big God who is powerful enough to run the world without me. I’m simply called to do good as I have opportunity. And the reality is, I’m surrounded by opportunities to do good. There’s always someone in my church who is sick, or needs prayer, or needs counsel. The opportunities to serve the Lord are there. I don’t need to feel guilty about all the things that I’m not able to do. I’m simply called to be faithful to the opportunities that God has given me.

So the next time you feel overwhelmed about all that you’re not doing, don’t freak out. Simply pray and ask God to help you see what opportunities you should be taking advantage of. You can’t do everything. Only God can.

  • Jen Altrogge

    Ah, this is so good for someone like me to hear. There are ample opportunities in close reach, where I can be doing good. That's a really helpful explanation of that verse.

  • Elaine

    Excellent reminder, Stephen! And the Lord always seems to make it very obvious as to me – in truth, He has to or I would miss it completely. When feeling overwhelmed with the needs around me, the Lord reminds me of a quote by Elisabeth Elliot – "Do the next thing." The next thing may be as mundane as doing the laundry but that little quote helps me stay focued on how I can serve the Lord in the everydayness of life. Thanks for the encouragement!

    • @stephenaltrogge

      That's a great quote by Elizabeth Elliot. Sometimes we forget just to do the simple things that God has called us to do!

  • Matt Harmless

    So true.

    On a slightly different note, I struggle with feeling guilty because of all of the excellent information to be obtained. The great books that people are recommending, the articles that are mentioned, the new infographic showing how much more amazing the love of God is… It is too much! I don't have the time in my day to take it all in!

    I want to be a good Pastor. A Pastor that is learning, but since I am also a working Pastor (I teach full-time at the local Public school), there is just not enough time in my day to consume all of the good/useful information out there. Top that off with the guy in my church that just lost his job and the elderly lady that is being checked for bone cancer and the other guy that has been out of work for months and the one whose wife left him and the guest that has been coming for a few weeks because he just isn't sure that he believes in God yet and the older guy that doesn't like it that you aren't using the KJV and then I get to stuff like what you are talking about! The suffering in the world! The people in India who are without Christ. The tiny church in Peru that would just like to have running water. The orphaned children around the world that you want to adopt but you just don't have the money. Guilt.

    • @stephenaltrogge

      I know what you mean Matt. As a pastor it feels like there are endless things to do. That's why it's so helpful for me to remember that only God finishes his to do list.

  • @fusilli

    Galatians 6:10 has been on my mind the last few weeks – sovereign timing, no doubt. At times I find myself overwhelmed carrying the burden of being everything to everyone or even trying to be everything to just one. At other times I find myself frustrated seeing needs that can be met, and seeing Christians around me not willing to do anything to help. Sure, we can be quick to throw out the "I'll pray for you." but few are willing to sacrifice anything real. Sigh, still working through this – trying to understand how much is my own sinful illusion of control and how much is righteous. Anyway, thanks for taking the time to share you're thoughts on the matter – it came at a very appropriate time.

  • Mike

    Hi Stephen, thanks for the reminder. Another aspect of the constant deluge of needs is that I keep finding 'bigger' needs the more connected I am and some of the ones I could actually do something about (by being a friend, giving, helping a neighbour, praying for someone I know well) get pushed aside by feeling guilty because I cannot stop genocide in Burma or cyclones in Australia. I'm convinced there must be a very important lesson in being finite and weak and needing to spend a third of our lives asleep that Jesus is teaching us (and I'm a very slow learner!).

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  • Caroline

    Wow! This was so appropriate with the thoughts I've been having recently. Thanks for posting. Of course, it wouldn't be a good thing make the opposite mistake either. Like you said, as we have opportunity we should follow God's leading in the good things that we do. But after learning that we can't do everything about everything, we should not reason that doing nothing about anything is the right way to go either.

  • Linda

    Feeling guilty for internet use is a very good thing. God is keeping you from being sucked into the internet maze. Studies show that the brain is being rewrired, that neuropathways are deepening and obessions and addictions are forming in the mind that are almost immposible to overcome. So, feelilng guilty? Its just the Holy Spirit doing its job.