The media is full of terrible things, violent deaths, disasters, famine, war and disease. The latest of these are the horrific events in Brussels that have resulted in death or serious injury for dozens of people, not to mention those traumatised by what they have experienced. World leaders now call these recent events “acts of war”.
Writing his Forward to the book “Prayer for the Day on Peace”, published by Watkins Publishing Ltd. containing BBC Radio 4 broadcasts, Terry Waite recently wrote the following:
“World War 1 became known as ‘The war to end all wars’. Alas, this statement proved to be somewhat optimistic, as just 21 years after the armistice, World War 2 was declared. Since the end of that conflict in 1945 there has been a series of wars throughout the world and thousands of people, both combatants and unarmed civilians, have lost their lives. Today, some would argue, we have entered World War 3, which presents a very different way of fighting. Instead of massive armies facing each other on the battlefield, we witness all over the globe relatively small groups of people causing death and destruction around them. Peace in the world seems to be as elusive today as it ever was.”
The fact that peace in the world is very elusive is confirmed by a recent book aimed at helping readers understand the world’s troubleshoots. Quoting the back cover of the book “The World in Conflict” by John Andrews, published last year by The Economist:
“So far in the twenty-first century, the USA and its allies have invaded Afghanistan; Russia has waged war in Georgia; the brutal Islamic State (IS) has emerged in the Middle East; and a constant contest for precious minerals in Africa has provoked – and financed – war and carnage. Other conflicts are less bloody, but still dangerous – the nervous stand-off between India and Pakistan in Kashmir, or the continuing stalemate between North and South Korea. Whether explosive or simmering, the number of violent conflicts in the world is high enough to surprise, intrigue and sober any reader.”
Yes, sobering indeed!
Why so much hatred and violence?
Underlying the numerous, deep-seated political and – often justifiable – social issues that have brought about this frightening situation, is what Terry Waite described as an “the inner struggle between light and darkness, positive and negative, good and evil” that needs to be resolved if world peace is ever to be achieved.
That viewpoint echoes the words written 2000 years ago in the Bible. We need to ask God for the things we need, not try and get them by force:
“Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.” (James 4:1 NKJV)
Clearly, removing this basic cause of wars and fights has – so far – proved impossible. Until covetousness and the selfish ambitions are entirely removed from everyone’s hearts and minds, wars and terrorism will only get worse.
The promise of peace
The word ‘peace’ occurs about 400 times in the Bible. So it’s hardly surprising that it contains plenty of advice and hope for anyone wanting peace in this troubled world!
For a start, it points the finger at us all and how we need to behave if we are to feel at peace within ourselves and find peace with others:
“Depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” (Psalm 34:14 NKJV)
Then there are those who need to be reassured in such a dangerous and violent world, where innocent people suffer while going about their everyday lives. While ‘time and chance’ happens to us all, none of us are safe from violence, the Bible encourages us to have faith in the “peace” and “safety” God plans for the future:
“The meek shall inherit the earth, and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.” (Psalm 37:11 NKJV)
“I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” (Psalm 4:8 NKJV)
Those who have learnt to trust the Bible know that these are not empty promises. There is a real hope of peace in the future, when all nations and people are united in the world-wide Kingdom that’s coming. God has made that promise.
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