Arise, O God, and scatter all your enemies! Chase them away!
Psalm 68:1 (TLB)
Arise O God. May that be our headline, rather than the headlines that horrify us lately:
Gunman opens fire…
It seems like one tragedy occurs after another. We are shaken, shocked, horrified, helpless. And often weary, numb, overwhelmed.
With each tragedy, we think, surely the world is more evil than it ever has been.
Yet, a Psalmist, thousands of years ago, cried out to the Lord to scatter his enemies. There was evil then, just as there is now. And while we can analyze, identify, deliberate, argue, condemn, and legislate, there is only one thing that can confront evil head on. One thing that can undo it, defeat it. destroy it.
Love. God’s love.
I know it sounds trite. simple. even condescending. But even though the world may deny it, we have an enemy of our soul. He seeks to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). We are in a battle with him (Ephesians 6:13). He prowls around to devour (1 Peter 5:8). He is a murderer, a hater of truth and a liar (John 8:44). We see evidence of his schemes everywhere.
While evil seeks to destroy, Love designs to build up (Ephesians 4:12). Love does not create fear, instead it gives us power and sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). Love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). Love is patient and kind, it protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres (1 Corinthians 13:4,7). Even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we will fear no evil, because Love is with us (Psalm 23:4).
In times like these, we are challenged with what we believe and living it out. Our hearts break. We ask why. And we weep with those who weep. Which brings me to a letter written by a man with a passion for God and his love.
In Paul’s day, evil, terrorism and violence were rampant. Just as we see today (truly there is nothing new under the sun). But Paul challenges the evil. Just as the Jesus he followed, he lived counter culturally, an upside down kingdom if you will. One that responds to evil with good. There is a deeper truth in the letter he wrote to suffering believers. Not an easy truth, but a greater, grander truth. The truth of love.
Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord.
Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.”
Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.
While we weep with those who weep, when we respond to tragedy with love, real love (the kind that gets involved, gets messy, does not grow weary, stays when others have moved on, offers help, gives hope) then, then, evil is defeated and Love Wins.
Heavenly Father, Arise and scatter our enemies. Comfort those who mourn. Help us find peace in the midst of tragedy, hope beyond what we see, and a faith that trusts in You.
Grace and Peace