There’s a lot going now in my life and in the lives of those that I dearly love. It’s so easy to become frustrated and feel hopeless. I received the following devotion in my email this morning – perfect timing! As Christians, we can be full of hope. (See 1 Corinthians 15:19-26)
With newspapers scattered throughout the adult Sunday school room, my husband asked attendees to give their gut reactions to the new headlines placed before them. Avoiding any political discussions or expected church type responses, he encouraged us to share emotions from the heart when we think through local, national, or world news.
“Discouraged, disillusioned, heartbroken, hopeless, frustrated, angry, numb, hypocritical, sorrowful, lack of critical thinking skills, hopeful for the second coming, out of control” and the responses continued.
What could have been a potentially explosive discussion became a time of pointing our feelings towards the only truth: God’s unchanging, infallible, Word of God — the only plumb-line that can help make sense of these days.
Regardless of where we stand politically or on issues of global importance, it’s a time where many of us have deep-seated feelings that are so far out of our ability to control or change what is happening.
It only takes a few minutes on Facebook to find people spewing venom and reactions based on emotion, often without first taking time to check facts or sources. I can’t help but imagine that Satan celebrates each time believers act out, especially against each other. That conflict among believers rips apart the body of Christ.
Often we forget that grace and truth must go hand in hand.
As my home church has encouraged “prayer labs” over the past month, I’ve felt a profound sense of conviction at how often I vent my frustrations and cynicisms before I first ask the Holy Spirit to equip me in my response and pray accordingly.
Over and over, I am reminded that He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Nothing takes Him by surprise, so we can trust that He cares deeply for every decision. He is able to accomplish good and His heart’s desire is that we ask. That doesn’t mean that the headlines will change, but we know that He can use them for His glory.
As the US election year escalates, I see more and more Christians updating their status to “If X-Y-Z gets elected, I am moving.” I understand this frustration, but can I encourage us to be women of prayer who stand in the gap on behalf of our nation? (This applies to all, regardless of our home country.)
I’m filled with profound gratitude that Jesus didn’t up and leave when the going got tough. He stood firm to the end and encouraged His disciples to do likewise. This is our opportunity to live faithfully in the midst of difficult times, even though others may oppose us, to weep with those who weep, and intercede on behalf of God’s truth.
Will you stand along side my church as we pray through the news headlines just like my Sunday school class did during our “prayer lab”?
Instead of reacting on emotion, join me in grabbing a Bible and the newspaper. Let’s open God’s Word and use His truth plumb-line when it comes to the world at large.
What are our weapons? How does our response change when we believe this to be true? “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”(2 Corinthians 10:3-5)
How might we react differently when we agree with Jesus about our role? “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)
What role does slander play in the news? What is tempting about slander? (Especially difficult when it’s presented as news, so pray for discernment.) What does Paul say to do? “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32)
For whom should we pray? Why? “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:44-45)
“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all peopleto be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:1-4)
How can we know what to pray? “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” (Romans 8:26-27)
What does our heart attitude need to be for effective prayer? “These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word.” (Isaiah 66:2b)
Consider the following as we pray through the headlines.
1. Pray the truth about God . . . that He is sovereign and loving and able to answer our prayer about this topic. Speak that truth out loud in prayer. God already knows, but it helps us to declare that truth. Who does He say He is?
2. Do a heart check: what attitude do I have about this topic? Do I have anger or pride or some other response about this topic that will get in the way of my prayer? Do I have self-righteous or condemning thoughts? Ask God to forgive that attitude, and help us overcome it.
3. Thank the Holy Spirit for leading us as we pray. Listen for Him to lead us now. (It’s okay to wait a bit as you listen for the Spirit to prompt you. Rest in the silence.)
4. Pray specifically for the people and the situation in the news story . . . for any change that might be needed, for salvation, for healing, for provision, for wisdom, for peace in this situation.
Now when my gut reactions scream frustration and hopelessness, I open His Word. I commit to prayer and not just another “share.” I commit to bringing these news topics before the Lord, knowing that in the end, He is the ultimate authority.
I ask that we continue our prayers in the comments. (No political discussions, just a time to intercede on behalf of the immediate needs of our countries.)