You wake up in the morning, feeling hopeful and looking forward to your day. Then you switch on the TV or radio, or check out your favorite online news source, and there it is: another terrorist attack, school shooting, or other heinous, senseless act of violence. Disturbing images of death, horror and destruction instantaneously transform your hopeful, optimistic mood into one of sorrow, disgust and fear. Terrifying questions and scenarios fill your mind: Where will the next attack happen? What if my loved ones or I are the next victims? Will there ever be peace on earth? Is it futile to plan, hope and dream about the future? Do we even have a future?
During these troubled times, especially following the latest deadly terrorist attack, we are naturally concerned about our own country and the world. We wonder what we possibly can do to help. It’s important to maintain the right perspective so that we don’t become frightened and discouraged, because excessive grief, fear and anxiety about the world’s troubles will keep us from functioning effectively. Each of us is on earth to fulfill a unique purpose, and unless we do, we will never feel peace, regardless of what is happening in the world. We need to stay hopeful, and open to God’s light and love, grounding ourselves in prayer and living our faith as completely as possible.
“This I command you: love one another. If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own, but because you do not belong to the world, the world hates you.” [John 15:17-19]. The world is troubled, not because of God, but because it totally ignores what God is and how He wishes people to live. If humankind saw what God is truly like, it would open our eyes forever, and evil and hatred would cease to have any power in the world. But we will not be able to recognize God as long as we are too busy deciding what we think God should be, trying to force Him to fit into our limited human perceptions. Spontaneous glimpses of God occur when human beings are focused on one another instead of on themselves. If we wish to see God, we must seek Him in one another. We must spread God’s light wherever and whenever we can.
The world won’t be saved by violence or empty words, but by love and by truth. Human ideas of God give opinions, not truth, and result in dissension and hatred. “If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” [John 8:31-32]. Through troubled times, we must continue to honor truth and give it to others. God is truly recognized only when people stop fighting about what God is and instead open to what God wants from us: to aspire to the highest of all human endeavors, the simple ability to love. That’s all God wants of us. It is what we can do to help the world: just love and work and stop dwelling on fear and anxiety. You only can do your part where you are on earth; you can concentrate only on one thing at a time. If you fill your mind with Light, there will be no room for darkness.
Inner peace is independent of what goes on around us. It is like armor, shielding our souls from the evil and turmoil of the world, allowing us to stay serene and strong. Regardless of whether times are good or bad, we give our lives meaning by never losing sight of our high ideals or our purpose. If conflict seems to surround us, if we feel doubt and confusion about religious or political views and other issues, we shouldn’t dwell on these things until we lose all hope. Answering to the world instead of to God will prevent us from living out God’s plan for our lives. We must not get discouraged or frightened when restless humans threaten peace on earth. The world cannot destroy our inner peace unless we let it.
At the Last Supper, Jesus prayed to the Father for his disciples: “I gave them your word, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth.”
Here are some tips to help you stay hopeful and maintain your inner peace:
- When worry and sorrow threaten your peace of mind, spend time in prayer and meditation. Keep a journal in which you record your thoughts, fears, and prayers. Talk to God about your anxieties and concerns, then release them into God’s care.
- Read the Scriptures and other spiritually-uplifting material; copy in your journal any passages you read that speak to your soul.
- Post some comforting quotes and scripture verses where they will constantly remind you that God is holding you in His loving care.
- Listen to soothing and/or inspirational music.
- Spend time with loved ones and in activities that nurture your spirit and remind you that the world is still a beautiful place.
- Physical activity reduces stress and restores equilibrium. Whether you enjoy walking in nature, working out at the gym, doing yoga, move your body, and it will help relax and refresh your mind and spirit.
- Continue to plan, dream and set goals. “Where there’s life there’s hope” may be a cliche, but it’s true! Planning for our future keeps us hopeful.
- A man who was distraught and heartbroken over all the trouble in the world cried out to God, “Why don’t you send help?” God replied, “I did send help. I sent you!” Don’t underestimate the power of doing good right where you are. The ripple effect is a reality, but it works for both good and bad deeds. Drop your pebble of love and kindness into the lake of your daily life, and the ripples will keep spreading outward. You may never see all the results during your earthly life, but trust that they are happening!
- Above all, quiet your mind to hear God’s gentle whispers of reassurance within your soul.
The next time a frightening news report or terrorist threat disturbs your inner peace, remember God’s own promises:
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” [Deut. 31:6].
“Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you. See, upon the palms of my hands I have written your name…” [Isaiah 49:15-16].
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A PRAYER FOR PEACE IN THE WORLD
Heavenly Father, human rights are precious in your Your sight, and we ask you to answer our prayers for freedom, justice, and peace for all the nations of the world. Give our military the power to stand firm against its attackers. Make them aware of their responsibility to represent our nation with honor, truth, spiritual fortitude and moral courage, that our freedom may endure and spread outward to touch others who desperately need to be free.
Honoring our nation should not take precedence over honoring You, so let our leaders stand on Your Commandments and our nation be governed by Your will. You are not a God of violence, but of light and love. Help others to see You this way, and not use Your name as an excuse to hurt their fellow humans. Give us Your gifts of strength and peace. Help us to see ourselves without the self-righteous arrogance that spurns those who are different, yet with enough self-respect to fight for what is right and just.
We pray You will bring an end to hatred and evil, and grant us safe and fruitful times blessed by Your peace and love. Help our nation to recognize its great power to help and guide its fellow nations, yet keep us ever humble as children of Your great mercy and truth. Honoring Your will is the only road that leads to peace. Gently guide our steps on the path You have set before us. Amen.