It’s hard to watch the news these days, particularly those segments that focus on the rioting going on in many of our major cities. The anger and violence is palpable. Not only is it disheartening it is in fact contagious. I know this firsthand. I confess that I have had to check myself recently for I have found my teeth clinch, my fists tighten, my blood pressure heightens, and harsh thoughts form whispered and not so whispered words of ridicule and insult in private moments; idiots, animals, fools! And, I don’t like it.

          What is all of this upheaval doing to you?  How is it affecting you?  How are you dealing with it?  Is it making you angry, depressed, calloused, vengeful? What is the end of this? Martin Luther King hit the bullseye writing in 1963: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction … The chain reaction of evil – hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars – must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.” This of course was not unique to King for it was his Lord who said to Peter as he hacked off Malchus’ ear trying to prevent Jesus’ arrest, “All those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.” (Matthew 26:52, NASB)

          Hear me! I’m not saying that our communities and government don’t have the authority to deal with the violence we are experiencing with force. They do. Let’s remember as St. Paul taught, “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.” (Romans 13:1-5, NIV)

          Then, two short chapters later Paul writes this, May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13, NIV)  Do you see? He moves from the external control of governing authorities for the masses to the internal control the Spirit in the life of individual believers! 

          Though the world around us burns and harbors great chaos and disappointment, within the believer lives the Spirit of God who produces gifts that the world can never give nor, thankfully, take away; Joy, Peace, and Hope. They are ours to the full – overflowing in fact! How? It comes down to the simple matter of trusting Him. We trust Him first for our salvation and secondly for every experience and circumstance that comes our way, remembering that He wastes nothing (even our sufferings) and causes all things to work for our good. (Romans 8:28) 

          Remember, these words of St. Paul’s come not from dry theory but real life, a life of substantial hardship. Yet, he trusted the Lord in all things and from his life overflowed these gifts of the Spirit which helped carry him through. This internal fountain refreshed and sustained Paul, personally. He drank from it continually. Do you have such a fountain to drink from?

          I have no doubt that the reason so many came to faith in Christ through Paul, was not just because of the powerful words of his preaching, but also the wonderful serendipitous splashings of joy, peace, and hope from inside him. So, my prayer for you and me, who know the Lord, is that we also “leak” as we live and so help slack the spiritual thirsting of our trouble nation. 

In Him, Pastor Paul