Thursday, November 10, 2016

A Response to National Pain

We live in tumultuous times and if we only look at what we see in the news this world can seem hopeless and scary. We face many different problems in our world; political problems, climate change, human trafficking, racism, natural disasters, war, terrorism etc. It’s easy to become so over-whelmed by these problems that we become fearful, worried, angry and start blaming and hating on each other. We look for quick explanations and someone to blame for all the disasters that we together as a human society have created. Finding someone to blame might make us feel better for a little while, but it won’t make the problems we face any smaller. Each one of us get to choose if we will be a part of the problem or a part of the solution. As Christ-followers we are called to be carriers of the answer, not carriers of anger, carriers of hate, carriers of prejudice or carriers of “I told you so.”

We all have very different opinions on the situation and the tremendous problems we face but in the end the only thing that matters is what God thinks. What does God ask us to do in times of trouble and despair? Judah Smith teaches a sermon about the racial injustice in America but this message can be applied to any problem we face because it all comes down to how we choose to live.

The first thing we need to know is that our pain matters to God, God is grieved by our pain, but God is not worried or fearful. God is the answer to our pain and He is totally and fully in control. The second thing we need to know is that how we choose to live our lives matters. When we look at our problems in the world it can be tempting to say: “God, how could you allow this to happen?” The answer is simple; from the beginning of time we have been given free will by God. We are where we are today, both in our personal lives and as a society, because of our choices. We all have free will and over history we have (and we continue) to put ourselves in these painful situations because we don’t choose God and His ways, we choose our own way. The Bible calls this pride.

Judah Smith talks about how although our political systems and experts are important in our societies we will end up in despair if we put our hope in them. God doesn’t call us to believe in people, because humans can not save this world. God calls us to put our hope in Him. If we look to our experts and politicians to save this world we will constantly be disappointed and let down because we are placing a burden on them that was never meant for them to carry. It's a burden too heavy for any human to carry. God sent Jesus to carry this burden for us, so that we wouldn’t have to carry it. Jesus didn’t come to Earth just to save us from the grip of evil, he came to save us from ourselves. We tend to be quite self-destructive in our ways sometimes. It’s not surprising that we continue to end up in trouble and despair when we insist on living our lives apart from God. Outside of God’s will the enemy is waiting and he will be quick to use our free will to steal, kill and destroy everything that is good in our lives and in our societies.

Every human-being, whether expert, politician or regular person is flawed, but God is flawless. As Christ-followers we put our hope in God, not in people. Humans don’t have what it takes to save the world. We need God. There is no hope for humanity without God because the enemy won’t stop fighting to have our souls. This truth is often one of the hardest truths for humans to accept because our pride is strong within us. We want to be able to say: “We’ve got this! We don’t need God.” I’ve been in situations like this many times, where I have been insisting on overcoming a struggle on my own without asking God for help or guidance. When we act like we don’t need God it feels like swimming upstream, you work hard but you get nowhere. Children can’t make it in this world alone, every child needs his/her parents, and in the same way we were created to need God. Our pride pushes God away and we don’t want him, but that doesn’t change the fact that we need him.

We all carry a responsibility on our shoulders to take good care of the world we live in, but if we exclude God and think that we will be able to save this world on our own we will become exhausted, hopeless and fearful. We were never meant to face these gigantic problems on our own, we have a God who loves us dearly and who is fighting for us every minute of our lives. Why do we fight against a God who loves us and wants good things for us? Pride is the answer. How many times have we experienced the same situation with our own children? We know what’s best for our children and we try to help them but they don’t want to listen to us.

For some of us, the first thing we need to do in the battle for a better world is to come to God on our knees and let him carry our troubles, to cast our cares on him. We were never meant to carry these burdens alone. When we seek God’s help in our troubles He will give us His peace, joy and strength. When we take on our battles in life with the protection, provision and guidance that God offers us the journey will look very different. It won’t be an easy life but we will no longer have to live weighed down by fear, worry and anxiety. God will make a way through every storm for those who seek Him and His will for their lives. I know these things to be true not just because I’ve read about them in The Bible but because I’ve seen God do amazing things in my own life. I get tears in my eyes as I write this because I am so humbled as I think about how great God’s love is for me. I don’t deserve this great love in any way but He keeps giving it to me anyway and I will make sure I’m always ready to receive it.

Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.”
Psalm 55:22

Commit your works to the LORD and your plans will be established.”
Proverbs 16:3

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
1 Peter 5:6-7

“Keep your guard up. You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ – eternal and glorious plans they are! – will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does.”
1 Peter 5: 9-11

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