Psalm 37: 1 Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong; 2 for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. 3 Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. 7 Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. 8 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret–it leads only to evil. 9 For evil men will be cut off, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.
One of the easiest things to do in life is fall into despair over the state of affairs in the world and in our lives- to fret. I’m sure you know the feeling. We see injustice, false accusation, a world making choices that oppose the Lord, someone who matters to us making choices that oppose the Lord. There are people in our society that are being treated brutally and unfairly. There are children facing wounds that are none of their own doing. There are jobs being lost, people who take advantage, those who create conflict and feed off of self-absorption, those who are so sure they are right and you know they are wrong. And sometimes these people thrive and succeed. (Anything stirring in you yet?)
Couple all of the injustice we see around us with the desire for justice that the Lord has wired in every one of us and we have conflict. This conflict can manifest outwardly, between or among men. Or it can manifest inwardly, within ourselves and we struggle to come to terms with and accept that our own hearts are what they are- in need of a Savior. Acceptance that things are what they are is not the same as making a decision to do nothing. Acceptance is key to moving forward with any change. Acceptance means that we choose to live in reality, facing what is real instead of fighting it. We may not want to see it and we may not want to face it, or ourselves, but we must be willing and we must accept that things are what they are. It’s a surrender to facing truth. And it is crucial if we are to move forward.
We are called to accept that reality is what it is. We have to stop with the whole emotional strait jacket thing, where the more we struggle, the tighter it gets. We are to find the mind of Christ. And Christ is not wrestling in a strait jacket. The Lord has seen nothing new under the sun and He’s not blinded by the logs in our own eyes. Since the garden of Eden, man has rebelled against God. Evil men have found ways to succeed at what they do. The innocent have endured much pain and trial and false accusation. This is the state of mankind and it’s no surprise to God. He’s not shocked at how awful things are in 2013. And He’s not overwhelmed by it either. I am sure He is mightily grieved but He is grieved by the separation created between Himself and the hearts of those He loves. Because ultimately, in every circumstance, the issues are about our hearts. And what matters is much less about the circumstances as it is our hearts’ response to those circumstances.
So what do we do with the conflict? First, we accept. Then we pray and seek His face for Him to change anything in us that He wants to change. That’s always where we begin. After that, there will be times that He calls us to take action, to make a change in the external world. Maybe we need to sign that petition, volunteer for that campaign, move to a different city, run for office, switch jobs, or lead a protest. Perhaps we need to confront the person we can’t find the nerve to confront. Perhaps we need to not confront but respond to what irritates us with love, even though we don’t feel as though we can. Perhaps we are called to stand up for someone else or even for ourselves. Perhaps we are to help someone to not hit bottom or perhaps we are to get out of the way to let them hit bottom. Only the Lord knows. And with conflict involved, we’d be doing well to seek His face before taking any action.
He says we are to live in peace, regardless of our circumstances. We are not called to respond in like kind to those who perpetrate evil or else we are no different than they. We are called to respond as Christ would respond. Christ was not always passive, either, mind you. But He was always caring more about others than He was Himself.
Takeaway: Sometimes reality is not pretty. But we must accept reality- about the world around us and primarily about the condition of our own hearts. Once we are able to accept that things are what they are, that there is nothing new under the sun and that God is not distraught, then we can hear His voice and follow His command as to what action (or lack of action) He would choose for us to take. Nevertheless, we are to live in peace with HIm, trusting Him to bring all things to Himself. We don’t have to live in a chronic state of distress. We can be at peace, even though life is out of order.
Prayer: Father, teach me to accept that reality is what it is, to trust in Your peace and to receive it for myself. Transform me into Your likeness and help me to speak when You choose for me to speak and be silent when You choose for me to be silent. Nevertheless, let me first serve You. Only You can bring about true justice. Allow me to be Your agent of change, first within my own heart and then within the hearts of others. Reveal to me Your plan of action in my life and help me to hear it and obey.