English Standard Version (ESV)
Speaking for myself, I can sometimes be very casual with the earth. Maybe it's coming of age in an era of information overload -- it's hard to process all the tragedies around the world we've witnessed in the last twenty years. When I was a kid, I remember watching the evening news at 6 and the world news at 6.30. Even that had limited information -- much of the evening news was local, sports, and weather, and the world news, which we didn't always watch, could only cover so much. We simply didn't know about many things going on around the world. Now, a click of a mouse can bring you news from Africa or Asia. Violence in a Brazil slum or rural India can be on your computer screen within hours of it occurring. Natural destruction or abuse of the planet is a constant background sound. It's overwhelming and impossible to react emotionally to each event.
But God made all of the people, and God made the world, so there's a sense of loss with all of it. It all matters to God. Each person who dies, be it from violence or illness or old age, is handcrafted by God. They matter. God made every tree in the rainforest that is cut down, and God made every species that we lose to extinction. They matter.
So how do we balance a sense stewardship of the earth and its people with the reality of our limited attention? That's a great question. I don't have all the answers, but I know that we don't have to fix the whole world. God can handle that. What we learn from Jonah is that we have a responsibility to care more for others than we do for ourselves, and that whenever we interact with the outside world and other people, our first responsibility is to remember that they are a beloved child of God. As I read about the debates and interactions between people on different sides of debates (be it gun control/coronavirus lockdowns/politics/etc.), we would do well to think of those with whom we differ as handcrafted treasures made by the living God.
We matter to God. You matter to God. 'They' (whomever that might be to you) matter to God. We're all in this together, walking each other home. May we treat one another as made in the image of God, and embrace one another as people who are beloved by their Creator.