Faith in the Midst of Violence (published 10/6/13)

My parent’s heart was given a bit of a startle the other day when I was told that colleges in Springfield were under lockdown because of a threat against them.  It seems a man had told someone that he was going to go on to a college campus and “shoot it up.”  Homeland Security told the police, who told the colleges, and they went into lockdown to protect the students.  Since my daughter is now living at a Springfield college, I have to admit I was a bit concerned.  Imagine my relief when I heard that they caught the man in question.

We live in a world that is filled with the blessings of God.  Everywhere we look we can see God’s hand in our families, friends, and throughout our lives.  However, we also live in a time of violence and despair.  How do we find peace in such a world?  How can we find relief in the midst of the news that fills our television screens and radio speakers each day? 

It was just hours before his betrayal, yet Jesus spent his time encouraging and teaching his disciples.  Although he knew what he was facing, he chose to strengthen those around him with these words:  “Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God; trust also in me.” 

To face any kind of conflict, whether in the world or in our homes, whether in personal relationships or in the wider community, we need a stabilized base.  Our lives carry with them possibilities for success and failure, for victory and defeat, and without a stable foundation we will tend toward the negative every time.  Jesus knew this truth, and he also knew that once he was arrested the disciples would need strength to carry on.

Trust in God.  Just what does that mean?  Dictionary.com says that trust means “reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confidence; confident expectation of something; hope.”  With that definition, trusting in God means to rely on God for everything in our lives, for our safety, provision, health, and every other area of life. 

The writer of Proverbs understood this concept.  He writes, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).  In order to trust with all of my heart I have to examine it to see where my heart’s loyalties are.  Is my heart attached first to money, or to my family, or to my job or my possessions?  When I let go of all other things, allowing God to be first in my life, I am trusting God.  When I am trusting God, I allow God to move in my life, to orchestrate the blessings he has ordained for me; in other words, I free God to “make my paths straight.”

Jesus mirrored these words in his Sermon on the Mount.  “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Matthew 6:25-27).

Again, trust requires that we believe in and rely upon God’s promises and strength to carry us through this life.  My mother used to worry about many things; one of them was her health.  She worried about getting a disease.  She worried about what would happen if she did.  She worried about my father and what the future would hold.  In the end, all her worrying did was cause her consternation and fear.

Paul wrote to Timothy the following:  “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7).  Without the help of the Spirit, the Counselor, the One who was sent alongside to help us, it would be almost impossible to live without worry and fear.  However, Jesus promised us this Helper who would carry us through this life and give us the strength we need.  This Spirit fills us with love and power to be faithful and filled with faith.

Whatever is happening in your life today, I challenge you to take out some money and look at it.  Even our money says “In God We Trust.”  Remind yourself that there is nothing in this world that can separate you from God’s love, and with that being said, you can place your life, and everything in it, into the hands of God, trusting that whatever God brings into your life will be for your blessing and growth.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). 

Trust in God!

 

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