Today I was supposed to write a post about how life is beautiful.
And that post will happen, because life certainly can be, as God’s common grace abounds in the loveliness of His creation.
But some days, life doesn’t feel beautiful. Some days it seems the whole world is going in a no good, very bad, terrible way. Like a top, we seem to be spinning more and more erratically, the horizon swinging up and down at the strangest angles, until at last we must fall over completely.
Even our words reflect this. As I’m using Miriam-Webster, it shows me which words are the most searched. Anarchy. Despicable. Humanity. Mutually exclusive. Racism. Snipe. Standoff. Surreal. Terrorism. These are not the words of a people at peace.
Do you realize how many people died this week? And I’m not just talking about Dallas or Minnesota or Louisiana. Have you been keeping up with what’s going on in Syria? Do you know what the affect the Supreme Court’s ruling on Texas’ law will have for thousands of women and children? Have you watched the horrors of ISIS recently? If not, I don’t blame you. We’ve gotten to the point where we don’t even want to care about the darkness any more. We are overwhelmed with horrors we have no control over, and our only responses seem to be to point fingers, or to ignore all the news, thinking “What can men do against such reckless hate?”
But towns, families, people — human people — were shattered. And more will be shattered today. And instead of being things happening on the other side of the world, they are creeping — no, flooding in a great wave — toward us. Even our normal, everyday lives are invaded by ugliness and unrest.
Airports are bombed. Schools and malls have shootings. Babies are killed. Money runs out. Cars crash. Jobs are lost. Loved ones get sick.
Sometimes we feel we are in the middle of a raging torrent, waves of chaos swirling about us, trying to sweep us away. Sometimes life makes you want to curl up in ball in the corner, throw a blanket over your head, and blast music to drown out the pain not only out there but inside you as well. Sometimes, everything hurts, and you want to just scream, to make it all stop, to make it all go away. What are we to do in the midst of all this?
Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27)
Yes, the world can be terrifying. But it shouldn’t surprise us. The Fall guarantees that our world will be raw, broken, and bleeding, slowing running down. The whole of creation groans, because of sin. (Rom 8:22)
But in Christ, we are now a new creature. (2 Cor 5:17) We have been transformed by His power and His Spirit. So we no longer have to be conformed to the fear, the brokenness of the world. The Bible uses the words “Fear not” over 80 times, and uses equivalent phrases such as “do not be afraid” about another 30 times. That is over a 110 times God reminds us that He has not given us a spirit of fear! (2 Tim 1:7) What then should be our response as Christians to the ugliness of the world?
Well, let’s look at 2 Timothy. For God hath not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. The ‘For’ means that we are doing something because of this reason, and what is that? Stirring up the gift of God. (v.6)
So, God wants us to first use the gifts He has given us. We should be servants, binding up the wounds of this broken world, that they may see our good works and glorify the Father. (Mat 5:16)
Secondly, we should respond to the world with the Spirit of power. We’ve discussed how God gives us everything we need to stand victorious in this world. The Holy Spirit dwelling within us fills us with power. (Acts 1:8) Think of that, the very power of God is abiding inside of you, and is working to protect you! If God be for us, who can be against us? (Rom 8:31) What have we to fear from the world, when we are on the side of Him who has overcome it?
Next, we are given the Spirit of love. The way to address the problems of life is not to lash out in fear, nor to hide in isolation. We are called to love. To love our brothers, to love one another, to love our enemies; all men fall under the category of whom we should love. This applies not only to those who are hurt, but also to those doing the hurting. When people curse you, bless them. When people hate you, do good to them. When the people spite you, cast you out, and mock you, pray for them. Then our reward shall be great, and we will be true children of the Highest; for His kind unto the unthankful and the evil. (Luke 6:35) When we respond differently, the world will look askance at as, wondering what we have which they don’t.
Finally, we are called to respond with a sound mind. We should not be ruled by emotions or our fear. We should use our minds to be just, to be fair, to be logical. While being gentle as doves, we are still to be as wise as serpents. (Mat 10:16) Don’t be deluded by the wiles of the world. We are to study to shew thyself approved unto God…rightly dividing the word of truth.(2 Tim 2:15) We shouldn’t be ignorant, foolish people, believing every spirit, fad, or story, but rather try them, being Bereans.(Acts 17:10-11) And we should be filled not only with spiritual knowledge, but with everyday wisdom as well. “The proper motto is not ‘Be good, sweet maid, and let who can be clever’, but ‘Be good, sweet maid, and don’t forget that this involves being as clever as you can.’ God is no fonder of intellectual slackers than any other slackers.” -C.S. Lewis
But most importantly, we must respond with peace.
Peace is a fruit of the Spirit. Peace is a gift of God. Shalom, the Hebrew word for peace, can signify wholeness. Instead of being torn apart by the worries of the world, our hearts and minds are kept whole by the peace of God, which passeth all understanding. (Phil 4:7)
Jesus gathers our fragments of worry, our sharp shards of fear, our scattered pieces of pain; and gently mends us, making us whole. He gives us His peace. (Jh 14:27) We have the peace which the Son of God, the One Who knew everything that was going to happen, and how it would all work out in the end. We are given this incomprehensible peace.
Now, I’m not saying these reactions are easy or natural. They’re not. Not at all, not in the least, not in a teensy-itsiest bit. In fact, I’m writing this to remind myself of God’s truth. Because sometimes the emotion and the fear can threaten to overwhelm you.
But feelings are not the truth.
You are in the hands of Him who created all, and no man is able to pluck you out of His hand. (John 10:28) So when the fear and the unrest and the ugliness of the world threatens to sweep you away, look instead at the Rock on which you stand.