When all the World is Raging, Peace!

When all the World is Raging, Peace!

“It feels good to rage.” My friend said. She expressed to me just how good it feels to hang onto grudges and if at possible punish those who have wronged her. Her gripes are legitimate. Ill treatment by peers at work, sibling rivalry, and a general malaise about the government contribute to a common human ailment; bitterness. We are all affected by inequality. We are tainted by injustice. But if we don’t confront our anger and find a way to manage it, our lives bear witness to the havoc it can wreak.

Injustice brings out the worst in us. It exposes our bias, our insecurities, our helplessness and our feelings of lostness. I consider death the greatest injustice of all. Once the body dies there is nothing left to be done. But even while we live, we sometimes exist in a state of deadness that makes us feel terribly lost.

Our newspapers and screens abound with injustice and death. I was recently affected by a story in my hometown newspaper about Keith Galloway. He lost the most precious possession he owned this week, his life, at the hands of a thief. I did not know Keith, but I do know he did not deserve to die because someone coveted something that didn’t belong to them. His family will forever be haunted by the gunshots and the image of their loved one bleeding to death in the street. It may feel like this crime is far removed from me but it is not. Keith was my neighbor.

I met another neighbor today. Ray grew up in El Salvador and moved to the United States in 1989 during the civil war there. He described to me how disturbed he is by what is happening in our country. “There is so much hate,” he said. “People are filled with such greed. They are selfish. They abuse each other with racism. I don’t understand it.” He described to me what it was like to grow up in a country of great diversity and poverty. He described the hatred that fueled war. He spoke of people killing each other to get revenge for another killing. And so killing bred more killing. He told me he is afraid America will turn into the kind of place he fled from. And then he described the two years he spent fighting in the army in El Salvador—how he saw things he can never unsee. And then this large, strong man began to cry. And all he could say was, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” As he wiped the tears away.

Sometimes it feels like all we can do is weep for what is happening around us. We feel paralyzed with fear. Or worse, we respond with anger and add our rage to the conversation. We hold grudges because we have been hurt and it feels good to hang onto our pain. While it is right to long for justice, we will never heal the wounds without peace. And peace cannot be found without love.

This love is not the “feel-good” emotion perpetuated in romantic comedies. It is not the love we feel after we’ve had a few beers and profess our undying affection for our friends. The kind of love needed to heal our broken hearts is something entirely different. It is patient and kind. It does not envy or boast. It is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way. It is not irritable or resentful. It does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. This kind of wonderful love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things. This love never ends and it is only found in the person of Jesus Christ. (I Corinthians 13 paraphrased)

I may have lost some folks here and that’s okay. Not everyone is ready for this kind of love. They prefer to hang onto their idea of love. But I have to ask the question, how does the idea of the “feel-good” or romantic kind of love combat such terrible hatred? It sounds nice in theory to say, “I’m going to fight hatred with love,” but what happened to Keith Galloway cannot be conquered with that kind of love. The empty, aching void that now exists in the hearts of those who loved him cannot be filled with that. But it could be filled with Jesus and the family could find peace.

Some will scoff at this. They will tell me I’m crazy, or worse, stupid. But I experience this love every day and I want my friends to know the peace and joy of loving and being loved by Jesus. It’s the only solace I have when everything in the world goes wonky. The Bible describes him as the Prince of Peace and he is what this world needs now more than ever.

As I consider the headlines; the sadness, the anger and woundedness of our broken world, the only answer I have is the one who came and laid his life down so that we might possess His peace. Isaiah describes him hundreds of years before he was born.

“He had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. 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. Surely has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:2-5)

As tears ran down Ray’s face in the park, I could think of no other thing to do than to ask if I could pray for him. When he said yes, I asked God to give him peace. And after that, when I was feeling self-conscious and weird, Ray said to me, “We need more people to be sincere like you.”

I have known anger over injustice and I have been tempted toward bitterness. I have even raged. But raging never cured the ache. It never salved my wounds. In the person of Jesus I find true and lasting peace. Maybe today, dear reader, you will find it too.

This is the invitation Jesus gives, “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David. Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” (Isaiah 55:1-3, 6-7)

Isaiah 26:3-4 “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.”

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