We live in angry times. Joy and peace can be thin on the ground when there is so much divisiveness, name calling and anger. Even among the brethren of believers we can hear grumbling, discord, and general kvetching about this politician or that, these people or those, and in general how wrong the rest of the world is compared to us.
Perhaps it is a time for a check-up from the neck-up…
- Am I praying for God to correct people or situations? While it is wise to take our concerns to God in prayer, it is not wise to tell God just who needs correcting and how He ought to do it. When I start telling God what to do, I have theologically eased my bottom on to His throne. Instead of trusting God to do what is right, merciful and just, I usurp His authority – with arrogance. In truth, I am too small and powerless to “fix” others; I am too short on wisdom to know how to “fix” them. My peace is shattered when I forget that God is God (and I am not). I have a better hope of retaining peace when I relinquish people to God’s capable hands.
- Am I praying for God to change the political climate or outcome? Well, the disciples felt the same on the night Jesus was arrested. They were certain this could not be right – everything was horribly wrong! Yet from God’s point of view, everything was exactly right. God was not asleep at the wheel then. He wasn’t nodding off when the Black Plague passed through and killed so many people there were none left to bury the dead. He wasn’t distracted, missing the French Revolution while they burned Paris and chopped people’s heads off. He certainly is not unaware of the dissension and chaos we see now (which is mild compared to the plague or guillotine). He is at work making His Kingdom come to pass. Nations will rise and fall – but God remains. I maintain my peace and joy when I remember this is not my home – I belong to God’s Kingdom. I am just passing through and God remains in control.
- Am I dwelling in worry, fear or arrogance? Maybe I can’t seem to turn off the news (even though it raises my anxiety level). Maybe I scroll thru Facebook and reply to every wrong-minded post I see. Maybe I troll twitter and snort or “tsk” at how foolish people are. If I fill my mind with YouTube rants, Facebook arguments, and Twitter posts, it should be no wonder my attitude becomes “YouTwitFace”. The Bible does not command us to be up on current events, encourage us to keep abreast of everyone’s opinions, or follow people on the internet. In fact, I must change the input to get a different output. We are to dwell on that which is noble, pure, lovely, admirable (Philippians 4:8). If I fill my mind with the very best things of God, I will more easily remain at peace and filled with joy.
I don’t mean to suggest we should be unaware of what is happening or that we should not pray about it. We should do both of those things. I am suggesting that we sip gently from the news and media (if we must), and instead drink deeply of the things of God. The world may be angry, but we do not have to be. In fact, we are called to be different than the world. We are to be peace-makers, bridge builders, grace holders. We are to encourage one another, love our fellow men (and women) – even if we face the predictions in Revelation. So buckle up my brothers and sisters! It could get much worse before it gets better! But it will get better. Jesus is the Alpha and Omega. He is The One who was, and is, and is yet to come. He gave us His peace (John 14:27) – He gave us His joy (John 15:11). No matter how angry, fearful, selfish, or biting the world becomes, I can still choose to rest in these truths:
God is on His throne.
I have His joy. I have His peace.