When Evil Appears To Have The Upper-Hand . . . .

Several years ago I listened to the testimony of a man who had escaped the atrocities being committed against Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East.  The man went into grim detail about what he had witnessed–entire families being buried alive, young and old suffering torturous deaths–because they refused to abandon their faith.  The man was obviously dismayed by the retelling, yet it was as he described the perpetrators of such evil as “animals” devoid of their humanity, that he sobbed uncontrollably.

As I watched I realized that he was crying out to God–not only for the people who were killed or for those who are still trapped or have been displaced from their loved ones and homes–the man wept as he begged God to save the perpetrators of evil from themselves. As I watched I remembered Jesus crying out on the Cross:

“Father forgive them . . .
for they know not
what they are doing.”

Luke 23:34

When evil appears to have the upper-hand, how are Christians to respond?  It is tempting to react in kind-–“an eye for an eye”—that’s biblicalright?  Here is what Jesus had to say about that:

“You have heard that it was said,
‘eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’
But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. 
If someone strikes you
on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic,
let him have your cloak as well.  If someone forces you to go one mile,
go with him two miles.  Give to the one who asks you,
and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” 

Matthew 5:38-42

With regard to dealing with our enemies, Jesus went on to say:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” 

(Verses 43-45a)

To turn the other cheek, to offer one’s cloak or go the extra mile are not passive acts–they are examples of an intentional Christ-centered love that is not of this world.  Such love and prayer should always go hand-in-hand when it comes to dealing with evil.  The man in the interview saw the deadness in the eyes of his perpetrators and wept for them–and so should we.  We should weep and pray as we remember that it is from such deadness that we have been saved.

When evil appears to have the upper hand, Christian love reaches out intentionally and sacrificially to help those in need.  The entire chapter of Romans 12 gives instruction on how we are to respond when evil threatens.  It says in part:

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.
Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Share with the Lord’s people who are in need.
Practice hospitality.

(verses 9-13)

The Apostle Paul also warns against repaying evil for evil, but encourages the faithful to trust God to bring about ultimate justice:

Do not repay anyone evil for evil.  Be careful to do what is right . . .
Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath . . .
If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

(Verses 17:19-20)

As I reflect on all of this I am struck by how much courage it takes to love as Christ loves us. I wrote this post six years ago and decided I needed the reminder it contains today.  How about you? Living in the world we live in, does it at times come easier to hate than to love?

I invite you to join me in praying for the courage needed to love as He directs our steps.  Rather than giving way to hatred, pray for wisdom and a deepened faith as we resist the temptation to repay evil with evil–God IS in control and is worthy of our trust!

All to His Glory!

Do Not Be Anxious . . . .

“For everything that was written in the past
was written for our instruction, so that
through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures,
we might have hope.”

Romans 15:4

God’s got this . . .❤️

I am always grateful to get to my office early enough to settle in and pray before my Clients arrive. During that time I ask God for wisdom and sensitivity in how I minister to each one.  I also ask Him for direction when it comes to encouraging each Client with Scripture. Last Wednesday was one of those times when God gave me not only the sensitivity needed to respond to each Client– He also provided Scripture that benefitted each uniquely.

To appreciate what happened, here’s a little background on the women I saw that day. All three are serious about living out their faith yet struggle with anxiety and have experienced panic attacks.* One of them I’ve worked with for more than a year; the others I’d seen for about six weeks. Each one is aware of the biblical admonitions regarding fear and anxiety: Do not be anxious about,

  • Your life . . .
  • What you will speak . . .
  • About how you should defend yourself . . .
  • About tomorrow.**

They also understand the admonition to be strong and courageous given throughout the Bible.*** They have responded well by learning to face their anxiety by answering their fears with Scripture. In the process they learned to turn to God with thanksgiving for His love, mercy and sovereign goodness. As they have done this, they have discovered courage not from within themselves, but through faith in the One who suffered and died for them.

The passage I received after praying that morning was Ephesians 5:8-21. The passage talks about being light in the Lord:

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.”
(Verses 8-10)

After reading the passage aloud, each then responded to my question, “What stands out to you?”  Each responded differently, but all were encouraged (one with tears of gratitude) by the call in verse 14:

“Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

We then focused on verses 15 and 16:

“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise,
making the most of every opportunity,
because the days are evil.”
Ephesians 5:15, 16

We talked how one of the reasons we have been given the Scriptures by God, is so that we will not be naive. We also talked about the danger of naivety in a corrupt, evil world and how, even so, the Scriptures offer HOPE. It is in that eternal hope promised by Jesus that we find courage to stand and move forward despite our fears.

So how are we to be freed from anxiety that can be so debilitating?  How can we live courageously in an increasingly unpredictable and oft times frightening world? The Apostle Paul’s words proclaim truth and direction to all who love and serve Christ:

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.
Put on the full armor of God, so that
you can take your stand
against the devil’s schemes.”

Ephesians 6:10, 11

“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement
give you the same attitude of mind toward each other
that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice
you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Romans 15:5, 6

God calls us to look beyond ourselves and our circumstances. He encourages us to rely on Him for what is needed to be courageous as we face challenges large and small. No matter where you find yourself in your walk with Him today, put your life (your day!) in His most capable hands as you give thanks for His Plan and Purpose being worked out in your life. When it comes to dealing with anxiety, it is faith in Him that gives us courage like nothin else can . . .❤️

All to His Glory!

*Where in past years depression was the primary focus of help given in the Counseling Room, today the majority seeking help suffer from an anxiety that imprisons or impairs their ability to function.

**Matthew 6:25; Matthew 10:19; Luke 2:11: Matthew 6:24.

***Joshua 1:6-9;