Little did I realize the turn of events that would bring us to July, 2020 and how radically different a few months would change so very many people’s lives. A very good friend recently read and reminded me of this post so I have revisited it today. I am reposting for one reason only. Perhaps my ramblings might bring a glimmer of light or hope to someone else struggling with the massive changes or with difficult times. After all, many are struggling with loses like never before; wrestling with clashing ideologies and cultures; living in fear of the dreaded risks of Covid-19; witnessing violence in their streets and for some even their homes. May we consider the words below as we try to navigate the challenges of our times and not be overwhelmed:
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the worldly forces of this darkness, and against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist when the times are evil, and after you have done everything, to stand firm.”
Ephesians 6:12-13 TLV
Originally PUBLISHED ON March 8, 2019
Change is all around us; some good, some not so good, and some traumatic. You may feel like you are continually experiencing it. Or ask, as do I, questions like why it seems that things are always in flux? What is especially frustrating and most of us have or will experience this sometime in our lives is when you seem to get caught in whirlwind, quicksand, or whirlpool. You may have experienced it. When something negative happens and seems to trigger a series of chain-like events and you can begin to forget what normal life feels like when this happens.
Why am I writing about this? Three reasons. First I seem to be in a contemplative season in my life, and secondly, it seems to have the potential to suck me in and drag me down as described above by the terms whirlpool or quick-sand. Lastly, I woke up this morning with a song stuck in my head (more about that in a bit).
So what can we do when this happens?
If you are a believer, my first advice is to pray and listen for the answers and search for them in the Word of God. I get it; sometimes this is hard. There are seasons when we don’t know what or how to pray BUT we have an intercessor praying for us, and He knows how to pray and how to translate our groanings and our outcries when we don’t understand what to say!
Personally, sometimes all I can utter is Lord, help or Jesus… Second, we are not the only one experiencing troubles, we are not alone though it may feel like we are. When we feel like we are, we hesitate to let others come along beside us to help carry the burden. Maybe we are embarrassed, shamed. That is usually the enemies attack and tactic to keep us isolated from others and God. We also need to remember plenty of God’s people experienced seasons like this and overcame them. Most of the best known and revered people from Biblical times found this to be true. Sampson was consecrated as a Nazarite and had taken a vow; he met with temptations that he succumbed to, like taking honey out of a lion carcass, dating and marrying outside his own culture, and other such shenanigans. Still, he did mighty things for God, and his life counted. There’s also Moses, Jacob, Rahab, Saul, also known as Paul, King David and the list could keep going. This situation is NOT the end of our story unless we choose to let it be!
Next, one thing that has been helpful to me was to stop watching the news. I did this personally in 2003. I will occasionally watch world news, major events and I’ll check in for weather events briefly. Mostly I avoid it like the plague or most recently a pandemic. It is just too much. I once counted up the hours our local stations run news. It is in the neighborhood of eight hours every single day. They start a story and continue it in the next hour, and possibly again in the following hour. Perhaps hoping you’ll stick around and watch it all. If you do, you are inundated with the same tragic and horrifying stories over and over. What has this got to do with change? When we are struggling with a difficult season of life, hearing ghastly stories about our communities, cities, and the world repeatedly; it seems so much worse than if we’d only heard them once. It is not helpful. The truth is, you’ll still come across plenty to keep you current whether it is posted on social media, a notification on your phone, or walking by a store display or news stand! Continually watching it can be stressful at best and depressing at it’s worst.
Our minds are bombarded every single day. Pulling back on some of the access gives our brains a rest and gives us more time to do things we enjoy whether it is a hobby, exercise to relieve stress, read, meditate, or get more sleep which so many of us are deprived. Rest helps, it may not answer the problem, but things look much better when we get proper amounts of rest.
That brings me to the song…
This morning I woke up a song on my mind, or more accurately my heart. That isn’t unusual for me, but the song was. Recently, I heard a song I remembered from childhood in the seventies. It was written or released in 1963, but my exposure was later. “The Sound of Silence” was re-released recently by Pentatonix and I ran across the video and listened. Did I mention I’ve been in a reflective state lately? So I pulled up the lyrics and began to read them and think about them. Some people thought them rather dark, which I had never considered. I found them more prophetic than dark. In the early sixties, a few saw them predictive of the so-called Hippie or free love movements according to some. My thoughts ran to the changes I have seen in our culture over my lifetime as I listened. I ran across another rendition by Disturbed. I was not familiar with them; I decided to go and look at their interpretation of the song. It seemed powerful, serious, and poignant. It was possibly a bit darker but considering all the changes in life and culture during my years on the planet. It seems accurate and still prophetic.
Excerpt from ‘Sound Of Silence’:
“And in the naked light, I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence
“Fools,” said I, “you do not know
Silence, like cancer, grows
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you.”
But my words, like silent raindrops fell
And echoed the wells, of silence
And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made
And the sign flashed out it’s warning
In the words that it was forming
And the sign said, “The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls”
And whispered in the sounds of silence.”
Also in 1963, prayer was taken out of schools. Ten years later, Roe vs. Wade passed making abortion legal. Though the majority at the time were against these acts, the vocal minority won; perhaps because of the sound of silence. That has happened many times throughout history from ancient times up until current events. The Holocaust is one example, though there have been many other examples as well. Different times and different places, but the sound of silence has allowed travesties to happen over and over and if good men/people do nothing or say nothing; it will continue.
As in recent news, yep it still gets through, even without watching, it may be particularly prophetic. Controversial bills are passing to allow abortion up until the babies due date; the law to protect babies born alive in late-term failed abortions failed to pass; a seventeen-year-old gave birth at home and stabbed her just born baby, taking it’s life. All shocking and devastating, especially the last! Yet, enough of the government representatives opposed the protection of life bill so that it didn’t pass, and her country says it is the mothers right whether to choose life or not. So, maybe based on that, she thought it was okay, despite the devastation to her life and the babies. She is charged with murder; as would someone be who had attacked a mother and caused the death of her baby before it had been born — mixed signals from our laws, controversial things many or maybe most hesitate to speak out about and remain silent.
Whether it be on a community, city, state or national level or a personal level, silence can be detrimental and cause devastation. We need to be there for each other, be reasonable and have mature conversations even when we have disagreements; we need to find common ground. Sadly, a vast majority get deeply offended; of those, some become silent, and others become vocal to the point of being abusive and unkind. Still, others are marginalized and seem voiceless.
As I read Colossians 3, something stuck out to me that I’d never considered from this passage:
“Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.” Col. 3:1-4 NASB
I have read this many times, but this time what struck me was when it says, “Set your mind on things above, not on things that are on earth”. Just maybe it meant not only to not get caught up in possessions, jobs, wealth, or cares of the world; maybe it meant “neon gods of their own making” as referenced in the song. Perhaps it means not letting the things we can see, hear and experience get to us; keeping them from sucking us in; but rather refocus immediately on God when issues come trying to inundate us and give them to Him before they cause fear, concern, temptations and other negative, unproductive feelings and actions to creep into our lives.
I had previously only considered it as a warning against getting too caught up in the world, but now it seems clear that it is a protection, a plea for us to keep our focus above on Jesus rather than getting caught in the snares that can lead our hearts into troublesome places. Places that can cause us to lose our direction and silence our voice rather than follow the next directions:
“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” Col.3:12-17 NASB
Perhaps you wonder how the above passage fits into this train of thought, I did. Honestly, we all desperately need some grace! We also need to give it to others; and yes, even to ourselves sometimes. We need God’s grace and mercy. Silence is sometimes appropriate; other times it is deadly.
God help us to have the wisdom to know when to speak; when to reach out for help; and when to hold our tongue. Grant us the courage to speak up and speak out when the time is right. Help us to reach out when we are overwhelmed, first to You for wisdom and then lead us to those we can trust for help that won’t add to our burden. Grant us wisdom in what and how much we open ourselves up to in the form of news and entertainment and help us find alternative ways to spend our time to protect our mind and heart where it is needed. Help us remember everyone is going through something at any given moment and give us the strength to show kindness, mercy, and grace as often as possible. In Jesus mighty name, Amen.
Grace and peace to you!