Dear Friends ~
Tonight, after praying for the families in CT who have been recently stricken with stabbing pain and unimaginable loss, as well as for other families who have lost loved ones in other horrible tragedies over the years, our pastor reminded us of one very important thing:
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21.
It is so important to “weep with others when they weep”, yes this is true. And it is also important that these things shake us beyond comprehension when they happen, this too is true. And being overwhelmed by grief is a normal and natural part of who we are, that is true. But being enveloped in overwhelming grief is one thing, and one that is completely understandable…..and being totally overcome by evil is quite another. If we allow that, the enemy wins.
This is no easy task, especially when we consider our human nature, the array of emotions we experience when overwhelmed with grief and sadness – the mind-bending task of wrapping one’s mind around the fact that parents will never see their own children again while living on this earth – along with a multitude of other reasons. However, God specifically placed this verse in his word for us. We cannot allow it to cause us to cave into evil….to change who we decide to be in the face of that evil, or to allow it to be an excuse for exhibiting that very same type of stance in the world towards one another. So this leads me to realize that God has a very good reason for placing this verse into his word for us.
What might that reason be? As I ponder this tonight, I think about the simplicity of this verse yet how it is intertwined with the monumental complexity of actually living it out, especially during times like this. What I thought about all evening was this: It’s not about keeping score. We cannot possibly measure our success in doing good by the guaranteed outcome 100% of the time that nothing bad or evil will ever still happen if we simply return evil with goodness. Yet God still admonishes us to persevere and do it.
As I thought about this further I realized that “overcoming” evil with good does not mean then, that we will eradicate all evil from this world due to our acts of kindness, compassion, or goodness of any form. But by doing good in the face of evil, we can and do overcome it spiritually. which yields a far greater and far more lasting result than what we could tally up here on this planet during the limited time we live here.
It’s about a mindset, a way of living, during times of grief and during times of great joy. It’s not some simple thing we do once in a while because it happens to be easy for us to do that day. It’s about living it out day in and day out, when we feel like it and when we don’t. And it’s about helping others and stepping up to the plate when it’s their turn to be in crisis and they aren’t necessarily able to overcome anything during that time. It’s about carrying one another through the fire, the pain, and the suffering to the other side. And most of all, it’s about doing so by reaching deep within for GOD’s power to give us the strength to carry out this task. Because trying to do it on our own is fruitless.
I think what’s happening in our world is a true testimony of that, don’t you?
I believe it to be true that if we were all to not only believe in this way God tells us to live, but carry it out as well (with diligence and in the face of the worst adversity we can imagine) that yes, we would indeed see some tangible results of overcoming evil around us as well. But mostly, we must weigh in the fact that we may not. We may still continue to see this vile and sick downward spiral in our moral fabric, our culture, our treatment of one another world wide, senseless acts of violence, people being cut short, innocents being slaughtered anyway. Sound morbid? Please read on.
So why do it? Because God is far smarter than any of the rest of us (what an understatement) and he tells us to do it. And I think I am inclined to trust that. God doesn’t make statements lightly. If he found it valuable enough to place it into his word which has stood the test of time and trial, it is clearly valuable and to be followed.
If any of you are parents, you know in a very real way how hard it is sometimes to have to limit your child from doing something they so very badly want to do. Something that you know would not be good for them. Something they see no reason they shouldn’t be able to do, that maybe other friends, family members, school officials, other parents, or anyone else you may wish to name might even tell you that is okay for them to do. Something that on the surface, may not seem “bad” or dangerous, or even wrong morally in any way, shape or form, but that you, being that child’s parent, just KNOW innately is not a good idea. It is wrenching and difficult to stand firm in the face of that, and at times, feel like the mean cop parent, the bad guy, and feel totally alone in the process. But you do what is right in spite of all that. Because that’s what a good parent does. That’s what a loving parent does.
Well, that is our Father God in relation to us. And he knows what we need to do for our own good. And he even tells us what that is.
Yes, there are things that are mysterious about God – but again, in relation to this I say the very same thing; he keeps those things a mystery for our own good and he will reveal the answers to those mysteries in good time and when it’s good for us to know. Period.
In the meantime I personally, am going to commit myself to try my best to abide by the things he does not keep a mystery from us. Things like what it says in that wonderful verse – to not be overcome by evil, but to overcome evil with good. In my heart, in my mind, in my actions, in my attitudes, in what I share, in what I don’t share, in what I write, read, view, show to others. I will fail, but I will continue to try. And I trust God that we can overcome.
I do not believe we can change the entire course we are on here on earth. Yes, some things can change, and we need to take ownership of praying and trying to impact that. But it’s important to remember that ultimately, the true “end game” is not fully in our hands. This is my opinion. And God will make his eternal plans for us come to fruition in his timing, not ours. Our time on this planet is but a drop in the ocean of life.
In the meantime, we can overcome evil with good action, at least in our hearts and minds and souls. And if the results don’t manifest themselves outwardly to the extent we would like, it’s important to look for them. We need to look for where God does indeed show himself, both outside of ourselves, and within one another. We must look at what good we can do here in this life but keep our focus on what is beyond this life here on earth and upon eternity. Because truthfully, our lives here are only important in light of how it impacts where we actually are going to spend that eternity.
He is there in the teachers. He is there in the first responders to the tragedy in Connecticut. He is there in the smiling faces that are forever imbedded in our memory banks of all the children we have lost in this world. He is there in the face of the homeless man in the street, the old widow who gives her last penny to feed the hungry, the volunteers and missionaries around the world who spread His word and light to others. He is there in the light reflected from our Christmas trees, the stars in the sky, and the laughter of a child or the cry of a newborn babe. He is there. He wants to live within us…all of us…He wants to be there shining His face upon us….to give us peace.
Yes, this life It is just one drop of water in the ocean of eternity. I plan to float face up in that ocean and bask in the soothing and cooling waves of Jesus as his love washes over me forever and ever more.
In the meantime, there are times to splash, and there are times to tread, there are times to doggie paddle, and there are times to do the breast stroke, but we cannot ever give up (be completely overcome) and allow ourselves to sink and drown completely. It’s just not an option.
Friends, it always has been time to lean upon Jesus. It has always been time to be there to hold one another up during times of joy and times of utter and complete sorrow, grief and desperation. And now, for certain, it’s time to keep our life jackets handy. Jesus is my life jacket. I hope he is yours as well. After all, only HE could walk on water. And He will carry us through to the other side.