Calmness in the Chaos
Evening on an Aroostook County Farm, Maine
“Between the dark and the daylight/When the night is beginning to lower/Comes a pause in the day’s occupations/That is known as the Children’s Hour.” (Henry W. Longfellow)
Closure of a stress filled day as ” the night is beginning to lower” is often met with a sense of relief and release. The day is relinquished to its inevitable end, and work is laid aside. Completion! Rest! Relaxation! And for those with families, the day is topped off with sweet moments of being with those deeply loved…until ….we turn on the evening news.
The nightly litany is long and tortures us with the incredible melancholy hanging over our world. Our peace and joy drain into the abyss of unending, prevailing miseries of suffering people: a terrible and deadly pandemic, divisive politics, repression, toppling nations, terrorism, war and poverty, earthquakes, massive droughts, horrible fires and floods, climate change, horrible air quality, brutality, racism, and crumbling values. After twenty minutes of negativity, a restlessness and an angry sense of helplessness rise within us; we become saddened, bewildered, and anxious by the chaotic, unhappy state of humanity. Mental, emotional, spiritual fatigue creeps in over time.
When the Psalmist faced his unstable world (Psalm 46), he was not shaken. “….we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea/though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.” He had reason not to fear. He trusted God. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble….”
Because we possess broken, fallen natures which lack integrity, we live in an imperfect, contentious world where greed, selfishness, violence and injustices have injurious sway and result in social and political divisions, unpleasant, unwarranted events, unhealthy relationships, and a progressively immoral, violent culture. We do need “refuge and strength.”
The world may shake apart, but the Psalmist knew that Sovereign God guarantees safe passage. “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” “God will help… when morning dawns. The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” “He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire.” “The LORD of hosts is with us…” (Psalm 46:1-11)
“Be still.” Become centered in God. The Psalmist found encouragement, reassurance, confidence and rest in God’s character, sovereignty, and promises of redemption. Christ entered the overarching picture to fulfill the promise of victory over evil. Through him come forgiveness, relief from the condemnation of our inner struggles and actions, reconciliation with God, eternal hope, and the promise of rest and peace for our souls. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”( Matthew 11:28-30) He taught that the pathway to God comes via repentance and belief and that the road to joy is living out the grace God gives us. “ These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:9-12)
The world will always be chaotic and filled with nightly “bad” news, but the Good News is that God had always been and will always remain true to His immutable nature. He is steadfast in love and enduring in faithfulness and will never desert humanity, who, though fallen, are meant for good.
Trust fully. Wait patiently. Rest confidently. Love as Christ does with grace, forgiveness and sacrifice. Live joyfully with purpose. Know that the ultimate victory has been won even though the battle rages.
“For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith.” (1 John 5:4 (NLT2)