As we begin 2010, I think it is good to take a look back. What a decade it has been! Just think, September 11, 2001 was a turning point for the United States and for the world. Now wars in Iraq and Afghanistan drag painfully on. The world's economies are in shambles. We see increasing unemployment, bank failures, major manufacturers in bankruptcy, and government agencies floundering as they try to solve problems, only to create news ones.
Sadly, the United States is a deeply divided nation today.
On the world scene we see civil unrest in Iran, intractable disputes and continued violence between the Israelis and the Palestinians. In other places there are pirates, pandemics, pestilence, and poverty. Wherever you are, it is not a pretty picture.
On a personal level, this deteriorating situation can be worrisome, unsettling, frightening. What do we do to cope with the bad news and these stressful conditions? Should we be surprised or caught off guard by these things? How can we stay positive, upbeat, and cheerful as we go about our lives, in the face of these seemingly insurmountable problems?
There is a way and it may surprise you to know that it is found in your Bible.
Jesus Christ laid it all out in detail, millennia ago, in the Olivet prophecy, found in the Gospel of Matthew. When His disciples asked Him what would be the sign of the end of the age, Christ responded by saying, "…For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom … and there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows" (Matthew 24:7-8). He went on to describe persecution of believers and the rise of false religions. And, yet, amazingly, in the face of these terrible conditions, He told His followers, in verse 6, "See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass..." Still, even with this instruction, it can be very unsettling as we begin this new decade...
Anciently, the prophet Ezekiel also lived in tumultuous, difficult times. His message was not popular, but God used him to warn the people about what lay ahead for them and why it was going to happen. His prophecy was written for the particularly for people in the end times. In this account, there is a very interesting phrase. In Ezekiel 40:2 we get the setting, "In the visions of God…" So we see Ezekiel having a vision from God. In verse four God said, "Son of man, look with your eyes and hear with your ears, and fix your mind on everything I show you." In effect, he was told, "Don't be distracted, pay attention to what I have for you."
Therein lies the key to having peace of mind in these troubled times. We need to concentrate on the message of the Bible. The prophet Isaiah understood this concept, and wrote, "You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You" (Isaiah 26:3). Yes, a key to avoiding a troubled mind and having peace is to stay focused on the eternal truths and way of life found in the Bible.
The Psalmist wrote about this subject in the beautiful poem found in Psalm 119:165, "Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble."
There is also a wonderful expression found in Isaiah 48:18 that paints a lovely mental picture. The prophet wrote from God's perspective, "Oh, that you had heeded My commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river. And your righteousness like the waves of the sea."
"Peace like a river" flowing clear and clean can be yours, if you "fix you mind" on the things God has to show you.