Keep Calm and Pray On

The American people are angry!  I can’t remember ever seeing such widespread, fierce hostility.

Those who attended the Million Woman march in Washington D.C were furious that Donald Trump won the election.  They considered his election an affront to the dignity of women and a future threat to abortion on demand.  Ashley Judd was nasty mad.  Madonna confessed to being so angry she had thoughts of blowing up the White House.

It’s not just feminists who are angry about recent events.  Politicians, actors and public figures of both genders are expressing their outrage at the President’s recent ninety-day immigration ban.  Protestors on college campuses and in the streets of major cities are so infuriated at the latest executive order they are blocking traffic, screaming profanities, destroying property and throwing rocks and bottles at police.

President Donald Trump is angry also.  He can’t believe the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals overturned his executive order.  He’s confident that it’s wise to temporarily ban immigrants from seven middle-east countries that sponsor terrorism and that he has the authority to do so.  Last week the President indignantly tweeted disparaging remarks about the judges who ruled against him and he vowed to get even.

It was disappointing to learn that evangelical leaders are deeply divided over the immigration issue.  Well-known church leaders like Franklin Graham, Robert Jeffries and Jerry Falwell Jr. are vehement in their support of the President.  On the other hand respected torchbearers like Max Lucado, Tim Keller and Bill Hybels are taking a strong stand against the immigration ban.

In light of the outrage that’s sweeping our nation we would do well to remember several Biblical principles.

1. Those who lose their tempers lose influence.

Solomon wrote, “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control” (Proverbs 29:11).

Some wrongly conclude that those who get the maddest, shout the loudest, protest with the most violence; win.  They imagine a loss of temper is a demonstration of strength when actually it’s a sign of weakness and evidence of a lack of self-control.  Leonardo Da Vinci once suggested, “He who truly knows, has no occasion to shout.”

2. Those who seek revenge eventually hurt themselves.  

“Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord…Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:19-21).

Did you read about the farmer in Bristol Virginia who was angry at the DMV because of their excessive taxes and red tape?  He was furious they didn’t return his phone calls and he couldn’t get personal attention.

So he got even.  He paid the $3000 tax assessment he owed in pennies.  He accumulated and delivered 300,000 pennies that weighed 1600 pounds.   However, by the time he bought four wheelbarrows and hired people to help him, it cost him over $1000.  But in his mind he got even.  The DMV employees had to stay extra hours counting and packaging all those pennies.

When you get angry you lose perspective, exaggerate the offense, lose credibility and minimize opportunities to make peace.  When you seek revenge, you are the one who winds up paying the most.

3. Wisdom doesn’t fight when a fight isn’t necessary. 

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but harsh words stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1).

Sometimes we need to fight to defend the gospel or to oppose those who take advantage of the oppressed.  Jesus got angry and cleansed the temple because the authorities were exploiting the poor and prohibiting genuine worship.

However, there are a number of complex issues where people get all lathered up on both sides when it may be best to remain neutral.  The Bible says, “Love is not easily angered” (1 Cor. 13:5).

Immigration policies are not clearly defined to me.  On the one hand Christians have an obligation to help the poor and to be kind to the alien.  On the other hand the government authorities have an obligation to protect the nation against those who would do us harm.

Perhaps government officials have access to information we don’t have.  We are told in Scripture to be obedient to the laws of the land and respect those in authority.  If the issues aren’t crystal clear, we are wiser to be patient and avoid conflict.  “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18).

4. Pray hard and trust God to work things out in the end.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

Of all the candidates who ran for President, Donald Trump was my next-to-last choice.  I am not a fan.  I’m tempted to ridicule him and denigrate his leadership.  But I’m commanded in Scripture to pray for those in authority and honor the king.

Psalm 2:1 reads in the King James Version, “Why do the heathen rage and the people imagine a vain thing?”  The passage goes on to explain that the people’s anger was really rooted in their opposition to the Lord and His Anointed One.  People in rebellion against God are vexed by His restraints.

Psalm 2:4-6 continues, “The One enthroned in heaven laughs, the Lord scoffs at them.  Then he rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them with his wrath, saying, “I have installed my king on Zion, my holy hill.”

No matter how much the heathen rage, no matter much Christians disagree with one another, no matter how chaotic the world situation seems to be, the Bible assures us that God is still in control and ultimately His will is going to be accomplished.  That’s true regardless of who is President of the U.S. or what Ayatollah rules in Iran.

These are troubling times but remember God is still on His throne and in the end He will establish His eternal Kingdom of tranquility and peace.  So, “Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires” (James 1:19-20).

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