If the current war in Ukraine has caused many to rediscover anything, it is specific prayers in the Bible that we used to ignore or that would cause embarrassment. The two I quoted above from Psalms fall into that category. They are pleas for God to essentially step in and beat up the enemies of Israel in some graphic ways. How can these be justified as “Christian” prayers?
The good news of Christmas, the Good News of the Gospel, is that Christ has come for all, and all can come to him by faith in hope and find rest for their weary souls. This is the very promise of Christ himself. In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
The first Christmas (and subsequent ones after) for Mary and Joseph were filled with interrupted plans, inconvenience, plans for divorce, monumental decisions, drama, death threats, murder of toddlers, rejection, uncertainty, narrow escape, refugee status, confusion, bewilderment, chaos, danger, and so much more. Joseph and Mary were swept up into an epic story far more significant than themselves. This was far beyond anything they asked for or were looking for.
We are living in the midst of a culture that is polarized, anxious and fearful. Even among Christians, there is a sense of insecurity and instability. In an age marked by the rejection of eternal, absolute, objective truth and one transcendent God; there is a corresponding lack of deep rooted trust, peace, security, confidence and stability.
Part of the issue with our anxieties is also our expectations. When I am anxious about something, I want the cause of it to be resolved. I want solutions. I want my circumstances to immediately change or troubles to go away. I want his provision now for what I may actually only need later, which means I am really wanting to find security and certainty in the provision instead of the Provider. However, this is not what Jesus promised us. He has however, promised us his peace in the midst of situations that are not ideal as we pray.
So, what’s the deal with this promise of peace on earth? Why after so many years, if Jesus truly is the Prince of Peace, has peace not come or stayed? And it’s not just wars around the world between nations, it’s the fighting, conflicts and destructive wake of broken relationships we have all experienced and been contributors towards. Has this promise failed? Is Jesus who He claimed to be?
This is what I am seeing I often miss about the cross. I like knowing I am forgiven, but am I too willing to forgive? I like knowing that despite being unworthy, Christ shows me undeserved grace; but am I willing to extend that grace to those in my life not “worthy” of it? I like knowing there is mercy for my sin; but am I willing to show mercy when others sin against me? I find it moving to know the length to which Christ went that I might have peace with him, but what length am I willing to go to to work towards peace with others?
When we are seeking ideal environments, we will end up disappointed and disillusioned. But when we stay focused on the faithfulness of God, we will not falter in times of trouble and trial.
It is the presence of God that brings fullness of joy and eternal pleasures. It’s his person that satisfies and eternally thrills the human heart. Heaven is not boring because God is infinitely fascinating! God is not a cosmic kill joy, but the source of all true and lasting joy.
In part one of this series (The Sea is Calling) I began to explore what the sea might be trying to communicate to us about the reality of God. Millions around the world are drawn to the ocean every year; could it be because there are powerful symbols that point us to a greater substance?Continue reading “The Sea is Calling: Part 2”