Another heart-wrenching week with more murder, chaos, blame-shifting, and fear. To add to the confusion, news reporters diagnose evil people with mental illness as if the label will cure future violence, then wipe the slate clean of suffering. But it doesn’t. Soon, another shooting will occur, and a new label will find its way through the airwaves to appease our questioning minds.
I cannot tell you how if these shootings involve mental illness and what results from deep-seated hate. But hatred is sin. It’s a high-handed evil that changes every aspect of someone’s life. Hatred memorizes an incident, then regurgitates it to consume the pain again. In time, details of the offense grow and become more exaggerated, while lessor acts fall between the cracks. Deep-seated anger blinds. It shields the truth and finds no mercy to forgive. When pride flourishes, it devises acts of vengeance that cross the line of morality.
Furthermore, hatred can stem from suffering, e.g., physical pain, constant disappointment, illness, loneliness, and hardships, out of our control. The longer the thoughts of anguish fester, the easier it is to turn that anger towards God and forfeit peace.
How can we find solace when anger flashes before us or rests inside the thrashing of suffering?
We need to pursue peace. A quiet heart seals the mind to pride and bows the knee to God’s intervention in our lives. Matthew 11:28-29 says, “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.”
Isaiah 26:3 says, “The steadfast of mind you will keep in perfect peace because he trusts in you.” Likewise, Isaiah 12:2 says, “Behold, God is my salvation. I will trust and not be afraid; For the LORD GOD is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation.”
A missionary to India, Amy Carmichael, said it best, “In acceptance lies peace.” Gone are the struggles of self-absorption when we open our hands and accept the turmoil, knowing that God is in control of each difficulty and sees the wrongs done to us.
Finally, we must show peace to a lost world. A steadfast heart is a profound example of a society filled with chaos and anger. Our depth of peace—in all circumstances — should spur our neighbors to question the hope that is in us.
In Elisabeth Elliot’s September/October 1984 newsletter entitled, “The World Must be Shown,” she says about a young mother who has terminal cancer, “I have been praying for her, asking God to enable her to show the world what genuine faith is—the faith that overcomes the world because it trusts and obeys, no matter what the circumstances. The world does not want to be told. The world must be shown. Isn’t that part of the answer to the great question of why Christians suffer?” I believe it is. Thus, peace is more than character refinement; it’s also a billboard of faith.