A Matter of Faith: Social media: the good and the bad


By Richard Gammill

PREVIEW Columnist

Social media is often accused of presenting only the bright side of life. We want to post experiences that will gather a lot of “thumbs up” or “hearts.” We are unlikely to post our struggles or our failures.

This causes some users to despair over the “ordinariness” of their lives. They ask, “Why do my friends have all these happy experiences when so many bad things happen to me? Why do I have so many problems?”

Sometimes when I open my social media account, I receive a gut punch. A friend passed away — and it happened just that morning or the day before. I am shocked by the news and drawn into the pain and sorrow of their loved ones.

I am jolted by urgent requests for prayer. A couple has flown to Alaska to be with their 16-year-old granddaughter who is in a coma. A friend has taken his ailing father to the hospital with lymphoma and colon cancer. A friend and her husband are caring for her parents in their home and her father has passed into a coma. Three pastor friends — one quite young, the other two retired — are hospitalized with COVID-19.

The outcomes are varied. The father at home died holding his wife’s hand. The 16-year-old girl passed into eternity surrounded by her loving family. The young pastor in Las Vegas succumbed to COVID-19. One retired pastor survived his weeks in the hospital, but now is suffering with the severe after-effects of the virus. Another was 26 days on high-flow oxygen and — with hundreds praying for him — experienced a miraculous healing of his lungs.

My social media friends are people of faith. Our comments express hope and give assurances of love and prayer. We are a widespread, caring community uplifting those who grieve. We convey God’s comforting love through the outreach of social media. In turn, we are often encouraged by the resilient faith of those we have prayed for.

Life is not all bright and happy. Modern technology enables us to enter into one another’s struggles and permits us to “rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). And marvel when God answers our prayers and performs a miracle.