In my life time, I have never understood the following words of Jesus more than now:
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)
We live in a world full of troubles. Anyone else sensing all the tribulation swirling in the air? There are big, hairy problems and the stakes of the issues overwhelm me. How should I think about them, much less pray about them? The following three issues weigh heaviest on my mind.
Thousands of migrants are walking toward the border of the U.S. As I try to think of a peaceful, responsible solution, I come up with nothing. As an American citizen, I want security and justice for our country. I also want people who have spent years in line to legally enter our country to do so first. As a Christian, I want to help the helpless and show the love of Jesus to people so desperate that walking through a couple of countries seems like a good idea.
God says: “Hate evil, and love good, and establish justice in the gate; it may be that the LORD, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.” (Amos 5:15)
Lord, please protect our country and help our leaders make good decisions. Bring peace. Protect the women and children. Help the government maintain security and help the church show mercy.
The airwaves are filled with the hate political campaigns bring. This year the intensity seems heightened. Both sides feel certain that the only way our democracy will survive is if their side wins. But both sides can’t win, so how will our powder keg of a society respond when half of us hate the outcome? What is the answer?
God says: “Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah ... You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound. In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.” (Psalm 4:4, 7-8)
Lord, please help us be more silent and less angry. Please give both sides of the political aisle hearts and ears to listen, learn, and respect. And please allow safety and peace to fall on our land, regardless of the outcome. Cause us to look to You ONLY for safety.
And then the worst tragedy of all: the shooting at the synagogue in Pittsburg. Murder happened as the congregation gathered to worship the God of love and peace. What a heartbreaking waste. The destruction overwhelms me, and I have trouble comprehending how that much evil could dwell in a human mind.
Hate always looks for a target. Evil and vile, racism directs that toward whatever group a person chooses. How stupid. How senseless. Someone thinks because they have less melanin in their skin they are better? Or because their ethnic background is different they have more rights? How do we solve the problem of racism and anti-Semitism?
God says: Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! "May they be secure who love you!” (Psalm 122:6).
“… for he who touches you touches the apple of his eye” (Zechariah 2:8b)
Lord, I pray peace for Your people. I pray for any evil plans against Jews to be thwarted. I pray that anyone planning to strike at the apple of Your eye be caught and prevented. I ask you to heal the grieving families and comfort their broken hearts.
What Can I Do?
If we think we are going to cure hate by screaming protests at those we disagree with, well then, we are just part of the problem. Pointing a finger and affixing blame may feel like we are accomplishing something, but it only adds fuel to the fire.
Ask yourself: what am I doing to make things better? What am I doing to make things worse? We are so quick to blame the other side that we don’t stop long enough to examine our own hearts. Or, we are so overwhelmed by the swirling madness, we ignore it all and hope it will eventually pass.
I, personally, ain’t doin’ that no more. No more pointing fingers. No more putting my head in the sand.
So, I’s sorry, but I am just going to be too busy to judge you. I am too preoccupied hating the evil in my own heart and mind to have time to worry about yours – that is between you and the Lord.
God says: The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate. (Proverbs 8:13)
Lord help me hate the evil, pride, arrogance, and wrong speech that stubbornly resides in my heart or mind. I confess my sin and submit myself to You and ask You to pour Your love through me to a world desperate for it.
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. (Romans 12:9)
Lord, please grow genuine love in me. Help me hate every part of myself that is not like You so much that I will throw it off. And help me hold on to You and the good You grow in my life.
Jesus: The Only Solution
And so we come back around to the verse we began with:
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)
Jesus words confirm that in the midst of tribulation, I can live in peace. The hurt, confusion, and crazy rhetoric may sound like God is no longer in charge, but He is. Hallelujah, and amen, HE IS!
And thankfully, He is also returning. But until He does, let’s join together and pray for His peace and His love which can bring wisdom to messy situations, bridge political divides, convict hateful hearts, and heal broken ones. He is our only solution, so let’s invite Him in.
In a world full of hate, let’s be the ones praying.
Write a prayer for our world in the comments below and let’s encourage each other to keep prayer.
All Scripture from ESV.