June 14, 2020
Peace in the midst of turmoil
If there is any one word which could be used to describe the year 2020 to a T, it would be the word "anxiety".
The anxiety began in January, with rumors of an impending sickness that defied all medical efforts to stem, and quickly morphed into a reality that jumped borders with impunity, struck down old and young alike and caused an agonizing death. The medical community was awestuck with the virulence of the beast, and powerless to stop it's spread and decimation. They forecast deaths in the millions, if not billions. The news media, finding a new target to demonize and idolize, entoned endlessly about how devastating such a microscopic thing could wreak such havoc, and how the entire world would be ravaged.
Voices of reason were quickly drowned out while the politicians and leaders jumped on the media-driven frenzy to come up with "solutions" to prevent or slow down the spread of the disease, not caring that the "solutions" or cure were more devastating than the sickness.
And anxiety increased exponentially as people saw their livelihoods being stripped away by draconian governmental overreach, businesses destroyed never to rise again, needed surgeries postponed or cancelled and social interaction deemed dangerous. Mental health issues became commonplace, and suicides skyrocketed as the anxiety reached epidemic proportions surpassing the original cause.
Just when it seemed that things were easing up and taking a turn for the better, one cop with a bad attitude did something uncalled for that resulted in the death of one black man, and the world erupted anew with a rage fueled by the frustrations of enforced idleness and isolation. The result? Billions of dollars of damages, businesses destroyed for no reason, law enforcement officers being targeted and killed for no valid reason, and the already thin blue line separating a civilized society from chaos and anarchy under attack.
Of course, the politicians and media jumped on that bandwagon too.
In the midst of it all, many have voiced the questions "when is it going to end?". "Can't we all live in peace?" " Is this the end of the world?" "How can I make it through this?"
Two of those questions I can't answer, and neither can anyone else, but two of them I can, with absolute certainty.
Number one question to answer is "can't we all live in peace?" I would love to be able to tell you we can. In all reality, we should, but we can't. And the reason why we can't is not some convoluted meandering through the apparent effects of the reason why, but instead is a simple statement of truth, summed up in a saying that has been around for some time.
"No Jesus....No peace"
Many thousands of years ago, God said in Gen 6:5 "And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually."
You see, the heart of mankind that is unredeemed and unchanged is a heart that thinks evil, sees evil, looks for evil and does evil, no matter how small or how great. As we look around at society at large, what we see is the effect of that unredeemed, unchanged and unrepentent heart being played out in millions of acts of violence, oppression and hate on a daily, even minute by minute basis. We see it in the face of the white man who screams profanities and worse at the black man next to him. We see it in the face of the black preacher/politician who, instead of using his pulpit to preach the Gospel, instead expounds on "white privilege" and foments racial division and unrest. We see it in the actions of business men and women who choose to price gouge over some item during a disaster, and the policies of a mega-corporation that decides to put a defective product on the market for the sake of profit. We see it in the news headlines that are calculated to stoke fear, hatred and animus, or provoke a course of action that results in something "newsworthy".
The world is evil. The world lies in utter darkness. And as long as it remains there, there will be no peace, no harmony, no good will among men.
But into that darkness, there came a ray of hope, a pinpoint of light that can dispell the darkness and drive the evil out of the hearts of men. In John 1, we can read that "In HIm was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shined in the darkness, but the darkness did not understand it." And therein we have the answer to the second question, "how can I make it through this?"
"Know Jesus, know peace".
In John 14:27, Jesus told His disciples "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." When we believe in Jesus of Nazareth as Savior and Redeemer, our hearts are changed from stone to flesh. "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh." Ezekiel 36:26
And with that new heart comes new life, new thoughts, new beginnings.
With that new heart comes true love. God's love.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.
Jesus said "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33. In Romans 15:13, we read: "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
These words are the ageless wisdom of a God who loves, who protects, who nurtures, who cares, who is patient, and kind, and forgiving. "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." James 3:17
Does that mean that the riots and protests will disappear? That hatred and racism will go away? That the virus won't sicken or kill anymore?
No. It simply means that in the midst of them, you may have peace.
How then, can we make the world better so that all the evil goes away?
We can't. God can. But it starts with me...and you. As you are filled with peace and understanding, it is up to you to let someone else know how they too, can have that. For if you don't tell them, who will?
One becomes 2, and 2 becomes 4, then 16, then 32, then 64.
As the scripture says, AS we trust in Him, He will fill us with joy and peace. and that joy and peace will OVERFLOW with hope unto others.
What will you do?