I grew up in a religion that encouraged one’s first thought of the day be that God, Mind, is in control, guiding and guarding. With morning study of biblical and textbook citations on weekly topics such as Love, Truth, Life, Christ Jesus, Reality, Unreality, Substance, etc., one can feel pretty well prepared to face the day. Such morning work encourages practicing throughout the day what one reads–say for instance, what I read this morning from Proverbs: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart: and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6) which gives one confidence to meet the day’s challenges. Another morning passage today continues the uplift: “Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.” (II Corinthians 13: 11).
Then I prepare breakfast and turn on the news. All hell breaks loose! Mass murders–up to 71 in less than 2 months of this new year alone. Earthquakes kill 40,000 dead in Turkey and Syria. Russia escalates its invasive war on Ukraine. Spy balloon surveillance puzzles. Political lying, cheating, stealing continue in old and new forms. The desperate need for low-income housing continues unmet, depressing those unable to find a home to rent. Children feel scared, unsafe in schools. Social media dupes and frightens. Mental illness grows. Destruction of democracy increases. So does racism, anti-Semitism, gender injustice, right wing fanaticism. Autocracies have risen throughout the world. This list could go on and on. Add to it if you like. But don’t stay there. It’s very important not to stay there.
What’s the answer? How do we reconcile the truths of our prayerful morning study with horrific human happenings? Is God really in charge? Is the God of love and peace really with us under a 7.8 earthquake’s rubble? Is God with the frightened child in a classroom facing a killer? Is God watching democracy’s demolition? Does God care that Ukrainians and Russians are dying in a senseless war? Does He know that freedom is struggling to survive?
It takes more than mere faith to stick with God during devastating times. It requires spiritual understanding. It means knowing, holding to, affirming who God is: omnipotent Life, Truth, Love, the Principle behind all that is. It also demands we know, hold to, and affirm who we really are: God’s offspring. As God’s offspring, the truth about us is we must express Him. Rather than the material substance that we think we are, we really reflect God’s spiritual attributes: goodness, kindness, justice, truthfulness, honesty, humility, generosity. God could create nothing less.
Sticking with our Creator requires applying His laws to daily life: The 10 commandments of Moses and the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount taught by Christ Jesus.
These laws enable us to live as God made us. They enable us to stick with God during thick and thin. They show us how to live good in the face of evil, in time of trial, in any bump-up with unexpected disaster. We are taught to see every event and everyone as Christ Jesus saw them–with love, kindness, tolerance, and an expectation of healing. We live who we really are by doing unto others what we would have them do unto us. Rather than make gods of material things and selfish ambitions, a healthier focus is to reflect God, Love, in our goodness, honesty, humility, kindness, and generosity. Take a fresh look at the 10 commandments (Exodus 20: 1-17). They seem new each time I read them.
Similarly, The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew chapters 5-7) refreshes my reason for being. This magnificent comprehensive directive for human behavior includes the Beatitudes and Lord’s Prayer as well as more wisdom than any blog dare try to list. Just go there. Find some parcel of it to stay with for a day (or a week!). Then another. Don’t be in a hurry. Mediate part by part until you come to love its meaning. It is tremendous. There is nothing in life that it cannot address. It helps me do in tiny bits what it states in the 6th chapter: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5: 44-45).
Artwork: Old Pier Reflections, oil, 12″ x 12″, on Ambersand panel w/ gallery edge, $475.
Painted in 2022, after visiting, feeling, what happens at an old pier. Reflecting more than the mere matter of place and time, I appreciated the transitory, almost spiritual essence of this old pier.