So, I’ve been sitting here staring at the screen for a while. Not really sure what to write about but I find my mind thinking about all I’ve been reading in the news (I refuse to watch it on TV to keep my boys from being bombarded by all the bad) over the last few weeks, months – even years – has given me the sense that my personal vendetta against loneliness wouldn’t really hold as much meaning…not right now, not when there is so much suffering going on throughout the world at this very minute.
Rioting in Baltimore, after rioting in many other cities across our great nation; utter devastation in Nepal, where whole villages are just gone…literally they are covered over and don’t exist anymore; Christians across the globe being openly challenged because of their beliefs, and persecuted cruelly, undeservedly, and unaided by many in positions of power and authority, being displaced and harassed (or worse), including here in our own country; human trafficking becoming a clear and present danger even in our own neighborhoods, never mind in less economically developed countries; political posturing and blatant, bold bravado from countries who openly seek to do harm.
Where does it end? When does it stop? Perhaps it doesn’t.
So, how do we deal with this?
First, honestly, for me I just pray right there in front of my computer screen. I will catch myself occasionally questioning God, “How can you let this happen? Why?” But ultimately, I pray His will be done and I ask that my faith withstand those nagging questions. Then I take comfort in and find strength in knowing that I am not, nor are you, alone.
Peter, for all intents and purposes, was a complete boss (in the slang of today), and his writing still is. “Dear friends, since you are immigrants and strangers in the world, I urge that you avoid worldly desires that wage war against your lives. Live honorably among the unbelievers. Today, they defame you, as if you were doing evil. But in the day when God visits to judge they will glorify him, because they have observed your honorable deeds” (1 Peter 2: 11-12). I believe Peter’s words were divinely given. What was true for the emerging church then, is true today for its believers some two-thousand years later. Peter, the other disciples, and the congregants faced death simply for believing. Did they demonstrate? Did they wage physical battle? Did they threaten to overturn governments? They did stand up for themselves, mind you. But, more importantly, they simply believed and they loved. They worshipped the One True God. They taught and they spread the Word.
Nowhere does Peter, or does God, say to us that living this life will be easy and trouble-free. Nowhere are we promised vast riches and luxury. We sort of messed that up in the Garden. But Peter, who’s been-there-done-that-got-the-T-shirt teaches “…endure steadfastly when you’ve done good and suffer for it, this is commendable before God. You were called to this kind of endurance, because Christ suffered on your behalf. He left you an example so that you might follow in his footsteps. He committed no sin, nor did he ever speak in ways meant to deceive. When he was insulted, he did not reply with insults. When he suffered, he did not threaten revenge. Instead, he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly. He carried in his own body on the cross the sins we committed. He did this so that we might live in righteousness, having nothing to do with sin. By his wounds you were healed. Though you were like straying sheep, you have now returned to the shepherd and guardian of your lives” (1 Peter 2: 20-25). Trust. Faith. Believe. Hope. Love. Endure.
It’s not easy. Watching the news isn’t easy. Reading about suffering isn’t easy. Living on edge isn’t easy. Worrying over when the next thing will happen sure isn’t easy. Dealing with conflicting messages constantly bombarding your every sense and sensibility isn’t easy. But loving God, worshipping God, doing your best to follow Him, reading his Word, and working hard to raise up your children to know and love Him, are indeed attainable goals. The result of which is a gift more precious than any found on this rock hurling itself around the sun.
God gives us love. God gives us hope. God gives us peace and contentment and joy.
None of these things are defined by the world we live in. No, these are perfect gifts only He can give. He intends to gift them to us and for us to then gift to others. And that’s how we can get to work fixing this broken world of ours. One moment, one interaction, one person or opportunity at a time. Look, none of us is perfect. Least of all me. But, if I consciously work to extend these gifts He’s so freely and lovingly given to me, even when it’s not easy and maybe especially when it’s not, then I’m doing what He gives me the free will to do. So, I keep my head up and I, hopefully, keep my eyes and ears open for the opportunities to show Him to others, whether in word or deed.
Peter reminds us: “For those who want to love life and see good days should keep their tongue from evil speaking and their lips from speaking lies. They should shun evil and do good; seek peace and chase after it. The Lord’s eyes are on the righteous and his ears are open to their prayers” (1 Peter 3: 10-12).
So, in my tiny little corner of this big rock, that’s what I resolve to do. Seek peace and chase after it. Believe. Love. Endure. Trust. Hope. Have faith.
How about you?