Moving forward with God’s peace
Note from Kristi Graner
“Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security.”
– Jeremiah 33:6
Everyone wants to be safe. Everyone wants to be healthy. Everyone wants to be protected. This is how we were created.
Our need to feel safe is deeply embedded in all of us. It is how God made us. The truth is that God is the only real source our safety and security. Without Him, we are hopeless.
We want the same safety and security for those we love, that is the reality of life.
That is why this season in history is hitting so many people so hard. There is such controversy on what it means to be safe, healthy, and protected. Disagreements have brought such discord, accusations and hostility. What does the Lord want us to do?
Of course, God is the answer – but how that translates into each of our individual lives hinges on our ability and necessity to go to our Creator God to ask for and receive wisdom.
“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.”
– James 1:5 (NLT)
Within all of us is the ability to connect with our Creator, to receive wisdom and to make virtuous choices. So why is it so hard to live this out in our community and culture?
The question always comes back to, “How can I know what is safe?”
What we know from Scripture is that our God cares for us and wants us to be who He created us to be. However, in this crazy world, we are so affected by other people’s bad choices and mistakes.
We set systems and programs in place to help people and to help ourselves. And for good reason. Systems are a great way to organize leadership and to ensure that people get what they need. But even with these systemic guidelines in place, physical, emotional and spiritual mistreatment can still take place.
I believe that our best line of defense and protection lies in the words that the Apostle Paul wrote to the Philippian church, instructing them how to live life with God.
Yes, we can ask questions about what do about vaccinations, hospitals, masks, no masks, quarantine and more. These are all good and necessary questions. They help us to make wise choices. But when it comes down to it, we need to follow the wisdom God gives us to make our choices. It is our responsibility and our obligation.
“Have you asked God?”
I realize it sometimes feels trite to ask this question, but this is really the best response to our questioning. Have you prayed? Have you become informed to the best of your ability? Have you sought wise council? All these things lead us to the best choices in our lives.
As the apostle Paul wrote to the Philippian believers as they were trying to learn how to do life with God:
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
– Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)
Each of us can learn to follow God’s peace as we move forward.
When we follow God’s peace, it is the safest place we can be.
What we don’t want to do is be led by fear.
An easy test to see if you are being led by fear is to discern if you are tormented by thoughts of “what if.”
Fill in this blank with something that is concerning to you: “What if __________?”
By following the instructions Paul gives us in his letter to the Philippians, we can a see from a different perspective. We can say, “even if.”
Try inserting the same thing in this blank: “Even if __________, God is still with me and will help me.” That is faith.
Staying close to God and being aware of God’s care for us is the safest place we can be.
“How precious is your unfailing love, O God! All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of your wings.”
– Psalm 36:7
When Paul was writing to the Corinthian church, they also were in the midst of a social struggle that was bringing division and strife. In some ways this struggle was comparable to our struggles today focusing on vaccinations and treatments.
The early Christians were challenged by how to handle pagan worshippers. Christians were being offered food being sacrificed to idols.
Did they deny the fellowship of sharing food with people who needed God because of the idols? Did they eat the food to build relationship and prove that God is more powerful than any idol?
It was a challenge and there were ugly disagreements. Paul told them,
“So, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
– 1 Corinthians 10:31
When we can’t discern what to do, when we have prayed, educated ourselves and consulted others, our answer should always be to “do it all for the glory of God.”
As we figure out whether to take a vaccine or not, when to wear masks, how to care for our bodies and how do we care for those around us, let’s “do it all for the glory of God.”
Still, disagreement and disrespect arise among us. It is common these days to find ourselves in situations where opinions are being expressed that we don’t agree with. Opinions are expressed and situations arise that divide more than unite.
Remember that God gave you a voice and an opinion.
That is a good thing. A healthy dialog is a valuable gift. You have a right to be heard AND you also have a responsibility to listen to another person’s opinion.
If you disagree with an idea, it does not need to lead to disrespect. You can disagree with someone without showing disrespect. You have the right say if you think a statement is wrong. Please do this with honor.
I was listening to Christy Vines, President and CEO of IDEOS Institute, speak recently and was drawn to her wisdom. As I listened, I became aware that she is a Jesus follower who possesses practical wisdom. She has decades of experience assisting oppositional people to have fruitful and honoring conversations with people who hold very different ideals.
Like many of you, I have found myself at odds with some forceful people in this last season. I love and respect them, but we are finding it quite challenging to have respectful interactions about important issues. Ms. Vines really got me thinking about this season.
As we go forward on our journey into 2022, we will likely experience challenges. As you seek the Lord, it’s okay to ask Him questions like: “How can I know that I am safe? How can I honor God with all that I do and say? What do I do when I get it wrong?” I believe He will respond and show you what to do.
My prayer for you in 2022 is that you will know God’s peace and protection, that you will experience His love, wisdom and blessings, and that you will be secure in His care.
“Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security.” – Jeremiah 33:6
Praying strength, peace and courage over you,