Last week was filled with emotions of all kinds. The first emotion was joy, being blessed with a clear night and capturing a nice image of the Milky Way. The night contained a secondary emotion of peace. After getting home and knowing I achieved a nice image, I took some time on my backyard patio and simply gazed into the night sky. Humidity was high, presenting numerous moments of the stars looking like they were gently dancing in the sky. I entered into prayer and found a deep peace and restful space of being loved by God.
Amid that peace, I began to reflect on the condition of our world. When doing so a deep frustration began to set in. “Why would people seek to harm others if they would experience the peace I’m feeling?” The peace of heart remained, but a realization came that the fruits of the Holy Spirit are frequently absent in our world.
And what are those fruits? Charity, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Generosity, Gentleness, Faithfulness, Modesty, Self Control, and Chastity. The joy and peace I experienced revealed a night of fruitful prayer in the Spirit. In contrast, the frustration I experience was a moment seeing the world with the eyes of that same Spirit, broken and struggling to find peace.
Despite the frustration, my peace of heart remained. My moment of peace was a gentle confirmation that my prayer was authentic and the consolation I found was real. A byproduct of my prayer also contained a question, “What can I do to share that peace?”
This deep peacefulness was my state of heart before the terrorist attacks by Hamas on Israel. Watching images of violence, bloodshed, and a complete desecration of human dignity was heart wrenching. The regional tensions between Judaism, Islam, and Christianity is complex. Still, nothing from my understanding of the three great monotheistic faiths justifies the actions we’re witnessing. For me, it was a moment of frustration becoming anger, tempting me to let go of the Spirit inspired peace I found. My prayer since these events has focused on maintaining a peaceful heart and praying for peace in the Holy Land.
Events like what we’re seeing play out evoke fear, anger and revenge. Our faith clearly teaches that countries have the right to respond to unjust aggression. Our faith also teaches that we are not to relinquish our call to respect human dignity. We are not to trade peaceful hearts for hearts of revenge and hatred.
What is the correct global response to acts of terrorism? I don’t know. I do know what God is asking of me at this moment. Grieve the atrocities that have occurred – those both known and unknown. Continue to pray for the Middle East and healing of the historical wounds that divide the people of the region. I also need to have some more prayerful nights, gazing into the wonderment of God’s creation to find peace. I need to avoid the temptation to allow the brokenness of the world to break me.
Pray for peace today. Pray for nothing but peace.