Where Peace Comes From
Where Peace Comes From
1 Corinthians 13:8b-12; 15:58
We've all heard our share (and more) about the corona virus, and riots, protests (both peaceful and not so peaceful). The images on television have been so dramatic... and honestly shocking... with looters and arsonists destroying property, and anarchist taking over city streets. With so much going on... uncertainty and anxiety levels are up. And the news has become a constant reminder that we live in a fallen world. A world that's overwhelmed with fear and uncertainty.
Even we Christians - people of hope, and Good News, and faith - join in the fear... seemingly paralyzed at times by our circumstances. We know the virus is real... we know racism exist. But honestly, at times, many Christians seem to allow fear to rule-over and override our faith... instead of standing in the assurance of God's mercy and grace.
Talk about statistical probabilities and eyes glaze over. A friend of mine told her children (in an attempt to ease their fears) that they were more likely to get the flu than Corona-virus... and now they’re just more afraid of the flu.
Zoe's dad, Jeff, told me last Saturday, that he has a neighbor in Tampa who is so fearful that he wears his mask all the time... Literally. When he's in his car by himself... when he's doing yard work alone. He even told Jeff that he wears it inside his own house.
Of course, there are times when wearing a mask is appropriate. We all need to take precautions to protect ourselves and others. God gives us the good sense to heed advice, and to take precautions.
But you and I are called to remember that what's important is not whether or not the odds are in our favor. The bottom line is that WE choose not to be afraid because WE know that God is in control of it all... including my life. Christ has called us to practice a faith that's greater than our fear!
We hear the words: “Be strong and courageous... the Lord goes before you... do not be afraid or discouraged.” (Deut. 31)
Still, at times, even the most faithful among us... feel insecure in light of all the uncertainties - the unknowns - in life.
Francis Bacon, was an English philosopher and statesman, who's credited with developing what we call the scientific method. Empirical evidence gained by physical observation using logic and reason. But, Francis Bacon was also a devout Christian, who believed in God, and prayer, and spirituality that CANNOT be studied and proven and understood in the same way as the natural, physical world.
He understood that we can't understand or prove everything! We will always have uncertainties and unknowns in this life. As the Apostle Paul said, "we see through a glass dimly." Yet, at the same time... we can learn to be content with the unknowns. Bacon's faith allowed him to be both a seeker of truth and at peace with all the things in this life that he couldn’t understand... all those things that can't be rationally and definitively understood.
Again, like Paul said, "I've learned to be content... for I can do all thing through Christ who strengthens me."
Of course, living with uncertainty has never been my strong suite. I like things that are sure. As a kid, I was not one to fling myself out over a river on a rope swing until I had seen many other people do it without dying. And even then…let’s just say I spent more time on the shore than flying through the air.
However, if you have any experience living life at all... you know that no matter how much we avoid risk or hedge our bets, life has a way of uprooting us. Uncertainty is a reality of life.
Sometimes when we feel most certain of our path, of our health, of our relationships they get shaken up. When the news headlines go wild over viruses, or unrest... or rumors of war... we have to decide how we respond to all those things in life that we can’t control.
Uncertain times allow us to see how sure our spiritual footing really is.
Will we scour the headlines hourly trying to ascertain whether or not to hide in a bunker, or cover ourselves with Lysol and hand sanitizer?
Are we gonna go on emotional lock-down? Are we going to be a people of joy and hope and purpose... or will we become a depressed and powerless people?
In other words, will we "stand firm" or cave to fear?
Paul says earlier in chapter 15 that we all face death and uncertainty... But the Good News is Christ has brought us life! And in light of Christ's death and resurrection, we can face life with hope. You and I can "stand firm" because of our faith in Christ!
The hallmark of faith is believing in something without seeing it or totally understanding. Faith has never been about knowing everything, absolutely, completely. That wouldn’t require any faith at all.
Faith is about trusting in God so completely and earnestly, that we can take a grain of faith the size of a mustard seed and say to our mountains, be cast into the sea, and it will happen. It may happen one shovel scoop at a time... but if faith commands it, nothing can stop it! And that same faith that can move mountains, can apply it to the daily news, to my marriage, to the future of my children, to my career... it even applies to the corona virus, and to racism and political and social unrest!
Faith gives us the courage to "stand firm" when everything in the world is telling us to fear. I trust faith over fear... not because of what I see... but because I believe in a good God I can’t see.
Of course, we all live somewhere between faith and fear. We all struggle with the tension between faith and fear. There's no shame in it! It's normal... It's common. But it's not where Christ calls us to stay!
When we feel most unsure, most uncertain and fearful... There are some simple yet powerful things we can do to keep our hearts and minds from becoming overwhelmed.
First: we can pray, every day, over the difficulties or stresses of life. When we verbally relinquish our sense of control and ask God for help, it lifts the burden from our shoulders... and eases the anxiety of our hearts.
Next: when we're depressed, or anxious and fearful... We should seek out the counsel and advice of a wise friend or mentor, or scripture. It might also mean reading or watching less news when it’s causing stress.
Finally: you and I should rest in the promises God has made. He is always with us. He will see us through, no matter how uncertain the circumstances seem or how difficult they may become.
Try spending time surrounded by God’s truth, instead of your own thoughts, worries, and anxieties. Is vital to moving out of a place of fear and uncertainty, and into a place of calm and, even certainty.
What am I certain about? Not whether or I not I will get a particular virus. This world may rip itself apart! No one can guarantee that won’t happen.
But I am certain that God will see us through, and I am certain that our hope for eternity lies in Christ, and in Christ alone. That’s where my peace comes from.