Solutions first start with putting our trust in God
I’m often asked how and where I find the inspiration for my columns. I would like boast I am so proficient in theological reflection that it comes easily for me.
Trust me, that’s not the case.
My habit is to start reading the Scripture for a particular weekend a week, sometimes more, in advance. Usually I go over it many more times before reaching my writing deadline. At times, something will grab my attention immediately. For instance, I never run out of ideas for Good Shepherd Sunday; perhaps my favorite image of Jesus.
More often than not, I struggle to find that certain something that holds deep meaning for me and will hopefully be of interest to my readers. Often that “something” comes in the form of a phrase or even a single word from the readings.
On this first week of Advent, several phrases/words have been circling around in my head. And be forewarned, I acknowledge I am taking them out of context. Be safe. Dwell secure. (Jer 33: 14-15) He shows sinners the way. (Ps 8:5-8) On earth nations will be in dismay. Pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent. (Lk 21: 25-28, 34-36) Jesus warns, assures, us that when these signs appear, we need to “stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.”
Now I’m the first to admit I’m no Scripture scholar. Those who are would most likely laugh at how I am going to string these phrases together. I only know how Scripture speaks to me and this is what it’s saying this week. For me it speaks to a concern I’m sure all good people of the world share right now.
We all grieve over what happened in Paris on Nov. 13. For those born at the time, we still carry the scars from the 9/11 terrorist attack in our own country over 14 years ago. Israel. Palestine. Africa. When does it end? How does it end? We understandably wring our hands with a feeling of helplessness, of defeat. Are these extremists, who have nothing in their heads, hearts and souls except massacre, winning?
Here’s, what I believe – what we need to remember – what should become indelible in in our beings:
1) Bad guys never have the last word.
2) Good always triumphs over evil.
3) No one would ever, could ever, have our backs more that Jesus. No one, not even a terrorist, is more powerful.
You might be thinking: Place our faith in God when there are people being killed by terrorists all around us? Seriously! Yes! First and foremost, we should always believe that God is in control.
Maybe this is a part of God’s intricate plan to start bringing our world together.
Maybe, through these dark times, nations will finally become united in the fight.
Maybe humanity will come to appreciate we are more alike than we are different.
Maybe we will realize that no matter what name we attribute to our Lord, believers ultimately worship the same God.
Maybe we will come to understand that standing as one, we are stronger than trembling as many.
That’s all good and fine, you might say, but how does that help solve the problem of violence in our world?
We can encourage and support the strategists who are far more versed in the situation than we are. We can put our collective pressure on leaders to find and put into motion an effective solution.
We can get out of our easy chairs and become informed and active participants in the political process, taking the time to get to know our local and national leaders – not just the party to which they might belong. We can make informed decisions when we vote.
We can respectfully and regularly make our concerns and opinions known to those who we have elected to lead us. The squeaky wheel is the one most likely to get oiled first.
We can end the petty and childish bi-partisan bickering. Truthfully, it embarrasses us as a country and only serves to create greater division, exactly the environment terrorists hope to create
With each prayer we offer, we can pray for peace in our world.
Advent is a season calling us to patience, to reflection, to waiting.
When we’re discouraged at our inability to solve the problem…when we’re impatient that the solution is not happening quick enough…the first step for all believers is to put the problem in God’s capable hands and trust that God has things under control. In the end, we all must defer to God’s time.
From there we all begin to take the responsibility, to do our part, no matter how small, in making the world a better place.