Can We Find Peace in These Politically and Socially Tumultuous Times?

What if you could tap into peace, joy and gratitude regardless of your circumstances?

What year in our lifetimes has been more filled with angst and anxiety than 2020? The year, 1968, might be a close rival, politically and socially. Add to the political and social tensions a global pandemic, widespread unemployment and growing economic uncertainty caused by our response to it, and 2020 is easily the most difficult year in my lifetime.

The political anxiety and uncertainty has overflowed into tensions within families, among friends, in communities and even within churches. Collective and personal anxiety is even higher, now, with the Presidential election coming up. Hope is mixed with fear. What if the right person doesn’t get elected?

Everything seems to ride on this election, but there is that nagging doubt that even an election – even if it goes “right” (whatever you happen to believe that means) – will not calm the tensions and bring peace where current circumstances are boiling on the edge of overflowing.

We know in the pit of our stomachs that the “others” will not go down without a fight. A presidential election may shift the leverage (or not), but the fight is going to continue. It isn’t going away. COVID isn’t going away. The economy teeters on brink of failure.

The mantra during the 1960’s – the closest thing to our present circumstances – was peace and love. We don’t even dare hope for peace and love anymore. The hope held out in the ’60’s has been been replaced with anger, condemnation and unkindness. The peace has been replaced with rioting, gun violence and looting.

Not that the 1960’s didn’t see its share of violence and unrest. It’s just that we don’t pretend anymore that peace and love are achievable (or even laudable) goals. We will settle for an authoritarian dictatorship or equality forced by the arm of the law and reparations wrested from the clinging hands of people who inherited privilege.

It’s easy to feel that our generation faces difficulties that are unlike the difficulties faced by others in the past. We may feel that we are alone in these times, facing the anxiety of an uncertain future, but it isn’t so.

The details of our circumstances are unique, but nothing is new under the sun: other generations have faced similar hardships and much worse. Every previous generation shared the experience of angst and anxiety of an uncertain future, just as we do.

Looking back at history in static words written on sterile pages, we may not appreciate the common experience. In the fog of our present struggle, we can’t see as clearly as we do when we look back. Our emotions are in full flight as the noise and chaos happens around us. We don’t have the luxury of viewing the present from a comfortable chair in a quiet library.

On what basis, then, can we hold on to hope? What assurance do we have that peace will prevail?

The predominant view of politics, sociology and culture in academia today is idea of the oppressed ever rising up against their oppressors in an endless cycle of unrest, violence and change. Peace no longer has value. Hope is limited to the immediate future when the currently oppressed can change places – for a time – before the cycle repeats itself.

In the middle of our present angst and unease, I am reminded of a man who wrote about peace that defies that is not dependent on circumstances and hope that lasts beyond the foreseeable future. He wrote of peace that gave him confidence and sustained him in circumstances worse than you or I have ever experienced.

If we compare his circumstances to ours, I think most people would agree they were worse, by far, than anything we have experienced. Yet, he was fed by hope, and he experienced real peace in the midst of those circumstances – despite the circumstances. His story is worth considering.

Continue reading “Can We Find Peace in These Politically and Socially Tumultuous Times?”

Diamonds and Coal and the Pressures of Life

We don’t choose our circumstances, but we can choose how we respond to them.


Diamonds and coal are made from the same substance, carbon.[1] They are both formed by heat and pressure, but the results are very, very different.

Coal burns and can be a source of energy, though it is not a very clean source of energy because it’s full of impurities. Diamonds have few impurities and won’t burn.

Diamonds on the other hand are among the hardest substances. They can be used in industrial applications for cutting metal and similar uses because they are so hard and immutable.

Coal is soft and combustible. Coal is dirty and rubs off everywhere.

Diamonds are clean, translucent, rare and beautiful. Diamonds are highly valued, while coal is something we would rather not use if we had other choices, even for burning up in a fire.

Coal is formed relatively near to the surface of the Earth, while diamonds are formed deep within the Earth. Diamonds and coal are both formed by heat and pressure. The difference is in degree.

Diamonds are subject to much greater heat and much greater pressure over a much greater length of time. Coal forms relatively more quickly under less heat and less pressure, and the result is that coal is full of impurities and still combustible.

Scientists don’t actually know exactly how diamonds are formed, but perhaps the greater heat burns away the impurities, and the greater pressure produces the hardness, resiliency, translucence and beauty.

I have heard that diamonds form from coal, but they don’t. Though diamonds and coal do form from the same substance – carbon – one doesn’t form from the other. Carbon can be formed into diamonds, or it can be formed into coal. It’s one or the other.

These facts that I have taken some time to gather in relation to diamonds and coal prompt a question: Would you rather be a diamond or a lump of coal?

Continue reading “Diamonds and Coal and the Pressures of Life”

When God Sends Us Difficulties

Does God send us difficulties? If so, why?

Depositphotos Image ID: 86547374 Copyright: Johan-jk


“If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people….”[1]

We like to view God as a Great Benevolent Giver in the sky. We want Him to pour out good gifts to us and make our lives easy for us. We are disappointed, disillusioned and discouraged when we don’t experience the generosity we imagine and want from God.

God is benevolent for sure, but He is much more than that. He doesn’t just want to give us good things; He wants to give us Himself. In fact, He doesn’t just want to give us Himself, He wants to pour Himself out into and through us to bless others consistent with His larger plans and purposes for world He created.

But, this ultimate desire and purpose of God to bless us takes on a different form than we would like at times. God’s activity in our lives doesn’t always feel like a blessing.

In this verse from 2 Chronicles 7, we learn that God, Himself, may cause difficult things to happen to us. Even if He simply allows them to happen, God is ultimately responsible for them. Right?

But why? And what can we do about it?

We need to read the second half of the verse and consider the context in which it was written for a more complete picture.

Continue reading “When God Sends Us Difficulties”

Destined for Tribulations

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(c) Can Stock Photo

“I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation[1] and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.”

This is how John begins relating the revelations he received that are preserved in the Book of Revelation, the last book of the New Testament. Sometimes we read over things quickly that other times will stick out. This verse sticks out today, perhaps, because we have a good friend who is fighting cancer. Today is also the 15th anniversary of 9/11.

I recently wrote about the charge from atheists that people have faith in God because of wishful thinking. Nothing could be more wishful. True faith is forged only in tribulation. Continue reading “Destined for Tribulations”

Judgment, Fear and Wisdom

Lightning on Land Over Ocean - Copy


“Judgment” is a dirty word by modern standards. Though we make judgments about many things every day, the modern ethic of tolerance demands that we shy away from judgment. For that reason, people have a hard time with the Old Testament. Continue reading “Judgment, Fear and Wisdom”