The World As It Is

 

Read:  1 John 4:1-8       

One morning this week following the Las Vegas mass shooting I stumbled into the bathroom to get ready for a new day.  The news of evil, tragedy, and destruction were heavy on my heart.  I could not fathom the pain and heartache that those at that concert and their families were experiencing.  I then turned to a plaque on the wall of our bathroom that I usually pay little attention to.  It was the words of the Serenity Prayer on that wall hanging that caught my attention and calmed my Spirit.

This prayer has been a source of comfort, hope, and encouragement for many people in the midst of this difficult world we live in.  It is a prayer used by church groups, support groups, and individuals who need the assurance and reminder of God’s grace and peace.  Many people believe that it was first shared in a sermon in the 1930’s by pastor and theologian Reinhold Niebuhr of Massachusetts. This would place it in the middle of the Great Depression years of the United States, which adds perspective to the prayer.

In case you are not familiar with this prayer, this is the extended version.  “God, give me grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things which should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.  Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardship as a pathway to peace, taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it, trusting that You will make all things right, if I surrender to Your will, so that I may be reasonably happy in this life, and supremely happy with You forever in the next.  Amen!”

That morning I took these words to heart.  The words of grace, courage, wisdom, and peace encouraged me.  I also noticed that it reminds us that Jesus lived in this sinful world as well, even though he himself was without sin.  This sinful world is not as we would have it, but we know that Jesus can and will make all things right in his time.  He died on the cross so that we could be delivered from our sins and rely on his peace in this troubled world we live in.  I love the words of John in the Bible when he writes, “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)

I hope that you will read what else John says in 1 John 4 and remember that God loves you in the midst of this hard world we live in.  When tragedies like this happen we hear many people struggle to find words to describe the evils that we witness.  We hear the words of Psalm 40 put to music by the group U2 when they sing, “How long to sing this song?”  We may not have all the answers or understand it all, but we know the one who does.  Jesus is the one who said, “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)  With Jesus you can too!

Make it Personal: 

 It’s easy to become overwhelmed, consumed, and depressed about the many evil things in our world.  With our 24-hour news cycle it is much too easy to leave the TV on and have bad news surrounding you all day and all night long.  It’s okay to be informed and up to date, but turn off the news sometimes and pick up your Bible for the Good News about a God who has overcome all of that.  Also, use the Prayer of Serenity if that is helpful or just pray that the Lord would help you in your struggles.

Blessings in your week,  Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church