As I scroll through my newsfeed and listen to and watch the news I can’t help but have the lyrics of this song go off in my head…
“It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine”
Whew! All I can say at this point is that I am glad that God did not call me to save the world… that’s His Son’s job. I’m just here, as in the words of Forrest Gump, “to do what ever He tells me to.” He has told me to love Him and love my neighbor. He has told me to seek first His Kingdom and He would take care of the rest.
The world, like the song above, is overwhelming. There are floods, earthquakes, sink holes, refugees, terrorist, sex traffickers, murders, police brutality, child abandonment, political unrest, corrupt governments, rebellion to authorities, cancer, homeless, domestic abuse, drug addiction, porn addiction, divorce, bombs, school shootings, and the list goes on and on. I can easily become discouraged, disheartened, and even worse… desensitized.
The latest in the news is the Syrian refugees. This has been a topic of discussion in my last precept class as we dug into the Sermon on the Mount. The back and forth on what to do concerning the refugees can go on forever. It’s really a sticky situation.
In my Chapel time with my babies at my preschool I have been teaching the children 1 Thessalonians 5:18,
in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
When our middle daughter was around three years old and we sat down to the dinner table to eat and she would ask the blessing she would thank God for each individual item on her plate… except the items she didn’t like. We would say, “Shelby you didn’t thank God for your peas?” She would reply, “I don’t like peas.” Sadly, I think we too easily become thirty, forty, fifty year olds that still only thank God for the things on our plate that we like.
God didn’t say His will for us was to thank Him when He did something we liked. He said in everything give thanks. Everything.
The verses preceding this charge to us help us to set the context of this everything.
See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people. Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:15-18
That in everything follows a section of Scripture that seems to be dealing with experiencing evil from another person. So it seems pretty clear to me that this in everything means everything, good or bad.
This is hard isn’t it?
Give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. This. This current circumstance. This present situation. This time. This place. This person. These people. This is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. He then commands in 1 Thessalonians 5:19,
Do not quench the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit helps us in our weaknesses (Romans 8:26). The Spirit helps us to discern truth (John 16:13). The Spirit helps us to see all things, all experiences, through the eyes of God (1 Corinthians 2:14). The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
We, as believers, are not to suppress His leading or His fruit bearing in us in any way in any situation. Once we discern that we are acting outside of the fruit of the Spirit, we have quenched Him. We are no longer listening to His discerning voice, but are acting out in our own ignorant, childish, fearful, sinful flesh. In this state we will choose wrong.
Are these refugees truly people seeking asylum and freedom? Are they islamic terrorist seeking to come in and get a toe hold in the heart of our nation? Will they come in and attack us in the dark while we are distracted by what appears to be light like my Daddy’s cancer did in his body and destroy us as cancer did my Daddy? I don’t know. They might.
Could this be an opportunity for the church to rise up and take in whole families and share the gospel with them and then Christ take root in their hearts and they go out and share the gospel with the other refugees and salvation come to a whole nation as in the days of the repentance of Nineveh? Sure. It could. Yes, they might. I don’t know.
Perhaps both could be happening at the same time…
All I know is that the leaders of our nation will stand before God for their call on this situation and whatever repercussions come with whatever choice they make. I suggest we choose to bow our heads before the Father and pray that He would turn their hearts according to His will.
The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes.
Then in everything give thanks to God and trust Him to remain on the throne and sovereignly rule the world as He continues to carry out His predetermined purposed plan. It’s just too easy to spout out our could’ve, should’ve, would’ves if it were me’s when it’s NOT. Grace goes all ways.