How Do We Cope With Uncertain Times?
All time is uncertain as to the future’s here and now. But what can we do or be to create peace of mind here and now during uncertainty over the future?
Uncertainty arises from consequences of our own actions, those of others, those of political and/or philosophical and/or religious proponents of ideologies that become encrusted in organizations and society, of governmental units and of nature.
Our own actions, thoughts and feelings are where we have the most influence.
Where can we access a sense of peace no matter what is occurring in and around us? I am reminded of the chorus of an old hymn, “Peace, Peace, Wonderful Peace, coming down from the Father above. Sweep over my spirit forever, I pray, in bountiful, billows of love.” One source of peace is the conviction of the reality of God’s love for us.
A second part of peace is being comfortable with our own rightness of action, thought and feeling. When we are convinced we have acted rightly, we can endure much adversity.
When our own mind condemns us of our wrongness, sometimes called sin, it is possible we are right about being wrong, can confess that and make amends in some tangible way. “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:9 KJV
Sometimes we are wrong about being wrong and bring upon ourselves what is called “false guilt., self-condemnation and even self-loathing.” Sometimes we are wrong about our being right. In both situations, self-reflection, input from others wiser than we, counseling, reading good books, the scriptures and prayer for guidance are helpful in setting us back on the right path. We can take Paul’s advice ( Philippians 4:8 ) to think about whatever is just, good, lovely, true, pure, honorable, gracious, excellent, anything praiseworthy…we haven’t been all bad all the time. When we ask for forgiveness God forgives us with the love and mercy of God’s character, after that, who are we to hold our errors against ourselves?!
The Christian scriptures assures us that God does not discriminate and wants to pour into our hearts and lives, Love. Love that even can love enemies…as one person said in our Pathfinder Sunday Study Class just last week…loving our enemies, that is respecting and trying to understand them ( recently advocated by Hillary Clinton) and help them with their needs is “enlightened self-interest.” This is what the U.S. did after World War II with Germany and Japan. But Jesus advocates that we do this without going to war. As one pastor said, “We cannot out-give God.” No matter what good we do, how much we give, God gives more.
How can we learn what is right, good and acceptable in God’s sight? Again, I am reminded of what Paul (St. Paul) said in his letter to the groups of Jesus’ followers in Rome, Romans 12:1-2,
Paraphrased: “I beg you, because of God’s mercy to us, it is our reasonable service, to offer and dedicate your whole self to God for God’s use,–your body, mind, soul, and strength–as your spiritual worship. Then let the Spirit of God transform and renew your thoughts so you yourself will know how to act according to God’s will…what is good and acceptable and spiritually mature. ”
The model for renewal is the life and teachings of Jesus the Messiah. Or as Paul says after listing a bunch of flaws of humanity, in Romans 13:14 “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ (anointed Messiah), and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” So soak your soul in Jesus by reading the Gospels of the Christian New Testament frequently, become the new creature Paul talks about, born of God’s Spirit as Jesus said, and then, as Paul wrote to the Philippians in Chapter 4 verses 8-10,
“Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say, Rejoice. Let all men know your forbearance. The Lord is at hand. Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
And when we pray, we don’t have to tell God what to do. God knows what is best. And, Paul tells of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in Chapter 8 of Romans…that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (v.1) and the Spirit prays (v.26-28) for us (the saints!) according to God’s will!
Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, came to Jesus one night, after business hours, and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher come from God for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “truly, truly, I say to you, Unless one is born anew, no one can see the Kingdom of God….whatever is born of flesh is flesh, and that which is born of Spirit is spirit” John 3:3,6 RSV
“The kingdom of God is not about food and drink (things you are worried and argue about), but righteousness and peace and joy in the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 14:17 paraphrased