What one thing can you do to find peace in injustice? Important question. I conducted an informal poll over social media and received responses ranging from trust, forgiveness, advocacy, or righteous anger to revenge.
Is peace even possible?
Mass shootings, a cascade of sexual misconduct allegations, attacks on people of color, an opiod epidemic and one can easily despair. But if we turn off our TV our homes often offer no safer haven. In the past three days I have helped people wrecked by murder, ravaged by the announcement of divorce, pained as they were kept from seeing children, hurt by an adult child struggling with mental health issues, and frightened over losing a job if the Dream Act does not pass.
I have spoken with those stressed over families as we enter the holiday season. I’m praying for friends wracked with pain from disease and one who is mourning the death of a young father. How can we find peace in the midst of such brokenness?
The Prince of Peace
I recognize as we enter the Christmas season, that we have a Prince of Peace. He is a wonderful counselor, mighty God and everlasting father. Isa. 9:6. So on one hand I recognize the question is flawed. It is not what we can DO, but what He has already DONE in sacrificing His life so we could experience peace with God and with one another.
On the other hand, the question is important because God calls us to be people of action. We are to be doers of the word and not hearers only. Jms. 1:22. Being doers means “doing justice, loving kindness and walking humbly with God.” Mic. 6:8. But let me suggest one necessary action that sets the foundation for peace, justice, kindness and humility.
The Power of Thankfulness.
I am a Jesus and justice lover. But I find that possible only by embracing my life’s verses.
Peace is the byproduct of an abiding joy experienced through a deep relationship with Christ evidenced by constant communication with our creator. The more time I spend with Jesus, talk with him, and listen to His voice through His word and the Spirit’s promptings, the better I understand His will. And that will is to give thanks in ALL circumstances. Not just the good – but the messy, hard stuff of life.
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Col. 3:15.
A prince of peace
The best example I can give of someone who understood this deeply is Abraham Lincoln. As distressing as turning on the television today can be, we simply cannot compare it to the ripping apart of the nation in the Civil War. We wrestle against injustice, but Lincoln fought the deep rooted evil of slavery in a way that is difficult for us to imagine. We need men of courage and conviction to stand for what is right no matter the cost. And for Lincoln the cost was extreme.
President Lincoln’s answer
Lincoln was a man of sorrow and suffering. He lost his son, sent another to war and loved a wife with mental health issues. But Lincoln was a man of deep faith, prayer and gratitude. At the peak of the Civil War on the heels of the battle of Gettysburg, Lincoln declared a day of Thanksgiving. In the middle of a bloody war and in the midst of deep injustice, Lincoln gave thanks and called on all Americans to do the same.
“I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans. mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and union.”
Lincoln understood best what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would later write,
“True peace is not merely the absence of tension, but the presence of justice.”
Lincoln set our Thanksgiving tradition, but he did so while calling for “humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience” in slavery. He did so demonstrating “tender care” for “widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers”. Lincoln knew when one part of the body hurt, all parts hurt.
I encourage you to not let anxiety, uncertainty and injustice numb you. Feel the pain. Call out the injustice. But do so in recognition of your own brokenness and give thanks to God. Join Lincoln in his prayer to “the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it.”
I encourage you to give thanks in all circumstances as you cry out to our deliverer to rescue and restore us as individuals, communities and a nation. If we want to make America great again, let’s start by making America humble again. Humility leads to thankfulness. Thankfulness brings peace and joy.
True thankfulness is outwardly manifested. A thankful person will do justice, love kindness and walk humbly. If you are one of less than 1/10 of 1% of the population who has a law degree then I hope you are thankful to God for His gift. Being thankful should compel service to “the least of these”. Please consider giving back a small portion of the time and talent you have been given to bring help and hope to neighbors in need.
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