Glimpses of God’s love in our world
I don’t know about you, but this world is starting to get me down a little bit. As a mom of littles, it’s hard to not let my imagination run wild with fear for their future. Social media feeds on hate and violence, and the stories that fill my inbox allow darkness to seep into my heart and shatter my peace.
That’s what Satan wants. He wants us to sink into the darkness and forget about the Light. He wants us to be so overwhelmed with fear that we push away Love. He wants us to fear man, so we forget about the One Who made man.
So in these times when my heart is fearful and my thoughts are running wild, I turn to the One Who holds me in the palm of His hand, and I reflect on His Word.
Today, I want to point my thoughts there and maybe encourage some of you other moms as well by thinking on what God has to say in light of these troubling times.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things–Phil. 4:8.
1. Whatever is true…We know that there is evil in this world and that there has been evil since the world was created. But we also know the One Who created this world, and we need to set our sights on Who God is.
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand–Is. 41:10.
The truth is that God allows suffering in this world because this world is not our home. While evil may prevail for a time, we know that God has the victory in the end.
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ–I Cor. 15:57.
When we start getting too comfortable with our lives, we begin to forget that we have a job to do here on earth–to glorify God. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day routines of going to work, dropping the kids off at school, going to the gym, attending ballgames or whatever extracurriculars your children are involved in, grocery shopping, paying bills… We forget that all of these things are just distractions from focusing our hearts on God. I’m guilty of it. In fact, if I’m honest with you, I have been praying lately that God would give me a passion for Him, a passion to dive deeper into His Word, a passion to be involved with the body of believers, a passion to step outside of my comfort zone and tell others about Him. Perhaps all of the chaos in the world is meant to drive us to that desire, to give us an urgency to reach the lost with the power of His Word, to show the world that the love of Christ is more powerful than any hate that can be shared. That’s the truth we need to remember.
So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed Him, “If you abide in My Word, you are truly My disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”–Jn. 8:31-32.
2. Whatever is honorable…Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines honorable as “deserving of respect or high regard.” Currently, one of the main issues being fought over in our country is what is honorable–which group of people deserves honor, which monuments deserve honor, which government officials deserve honor. Who or what deserves “respect or high regard”? Who gets to decide the answer to that question? What was considered “honorable” when certain monuments were erected is now considered dishonorable by many. And one group of people feels they deserve honor over another, while a third group believes they should be honored. The back and forth between so many different groups of people makes me think of an exchange that Jesus had with two of His disciples–the brothers, James and John.
And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to Him and said to Him, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask of You.” 36 And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?” 37 And they said to Him, “Grant us to sit, one at Your right hand and one at Your left, in Your glory.” 38 Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” 39 And they said to Him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized, 40 but to sit at My right hand or at My left is not Mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” 41 And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John. 42 And Jesus called them to Him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many”–Mk. 10:35-45.
The very One Who deserved honor, Jesus Christ, set aside His own glory to be a servant to all of us. That is what honor looks like. This is Someone Who deserves honor and glory. Yet, He came into this world as a baby, born to an unknown carpenter and his young, innocent bride, to grow up and be hated by his own siblings and rejected by the people in His own hometown.
He was despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as One from whom men hide their faces, He was despised, and we esteemed Him not–Isa. 53:3.
When we find ourselves fearful of the events surrounding us, we can still turn our eyes to Jesus, Who loved us this much–to enter this world full of evil to give His life for you and me. Stop and think on that for awhile.
3. Whatever is just…Ah, justice. The war cry of the masses. “We want justice for how we have suffered.” “We deserve justice of the sins of your fathers.” “We want justice for all.” While the cry for justice sounds like a call to arms, we need to be careful about what we are calling just. Do I believe that there should be justice for people who have suffered? Absolutely! But before you accept the call, make sure that you are certain about what is just and fair. What is the right thing to do? Sometimes, it may not be what we want; but if it is right, then that’s what we should be fighting for.
Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause–Isa. 1:17.
The problem with rallies is that they are not truly action. Like-minded people joining together to march and yell about what they consider just does not usually amount to much change. The first part of the verse in Isaiah says to “learn to do good.” If we truly want change to come about, if we truly want justice to happen, then we need to put action to our words. We need to get into our communities. We need to cross over to the other side of the street and shake hands with those who oppose our views. We need to build houses in our communities; we need to feed the homeless; we need to get involved with our youth; we need to foster; we need to adopt; we need to love more and yell less.
Rather than seeking revenge for what has happened to us, we need to seek to do good and to let God handle the rest.
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord”–Rom. 12:19.
God has been patient with us. He loves us and allows us to do as we want, even though we often turn away from Him. But there will be a day when He will exact justice for the evil in the world, and that is the day that we need to be preparing for. We can either turn back to Him, or we can continue to turn away. But one day, we will all stand before Him, either way.
4. Whatever is pure…None of us is pure. We all have sin in our lives that marks us for life as sinners. We can do nothing to get to heaven because everything we do is marred by our sin.
We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away–Isa. 64:6.
The good news is that God sent Someone Who is pure, Someone Who can save us from our sins–Jesus Christ.
Knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you–I Pet. 1:18-20.
So while we can’t look on anything on this earth as pure, we can turn our eyes to look at Jesus, Who is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (Jn. 14:6).
5. Whatever is lovely…We are a generation that likes gruesome things. We love horror movies (not me personally, but most people do). The zombie, vampire, and werewolf industries are booming. Our children love to be scared. Most of the hit television shows are dark, sinister shows that focus on evil. We can even be caught up in the darkness that is spouted on our news channels. We have lost the ability to look for the things in this world that are lovely.
But God created this world (Gen. 1), and He created it to be good. There is loveliness in a baby’s laughter. There is loveliness in the change in seasons. There is loveliness in a solar eclipse that shows us the awesomeness of the universe our God created. There is loveliness when a sinner accepts Christ. There is loveliness in two people joining together in marriage. There is loveliness to be found in every place if we just learn to look for it.
He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord–Ps. 33:5.
6. Whatever is commendable…There is nothing to commend when people turn to each other with their fists raised and and their hearts filled with hate. There is nothing to commend when one group of people thinks of themselves as better than another. There is nothing to commend when crimes are committed–even in the name of “justice.” There is nothing to commend when the world is allowed to get out of control.
What is commendable?
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God–Micah 6:8.
There it is again. God wants us to do justice, but we are also to love kindness and walk with God. The point isn’t for us to seek revenge on one another. The point is to be kind to one another (Eph. 4:32) and to walk humbly with God. When we walk humbly with God, we suddenly find ourselves less important and the welfare of others to be more important. We are suddenly able to let our own injustices go and to seek the good of others. Only then can we love well–as Christ has loved us.
7. If there is any excellence…We live in a competitive world, where we seek to excel at everything we do. We want to be the best athlete, the best homemaker, the best executive, the best cook, the best mother, etc. And we want our kids to be the best speller, the best athlete, the best student, the best child, etc. We compete to be the best, but we are setting our sights on the wrong prize.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God–Heb. 12:1-2.
God wants us to excel at the race He has set before us, so He provided a way for us to do that–His Son, Jesus Christ. We need to do our best in all things, but we need to excel at running the race of this life. When we set our eyes on the prize of an eternity in heaven, all the other non-essentials fall to the wayside.
8. If there is anything worthy of praise…Truly, there is only One Who is worthy of our praise–our Lord God. He is the One Who deserves glory and honor for all that He has done for us. We praise athletes, scientists, actors, artists, etc. But one day, we will know Who is worthy of praise, and we will all bow down before Him.
Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable–Ps. 145:3.
I know this world is a scary place. It’s hard to not know what’s going to happen tomorrow. It’s difficult to try to love and protect our children in a world where hate abounds. But that’s when we need to focus on the One Who fulfills all of the above–One Who is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise. When we fix our thoughts on Him, we can cast our fear aside because “no one will snatch [us] out of [His] hand (Jn. 10:28b).
So rest in peace tonight, Mama. The same God Who created this world has our future and our children’s futures already planned, and it is good to be loved by Him.