In the last twelve days, we have seen ISIS attack Istanbul’s major airport killing 45 and setting the world on edge because Istanbul serves as a sort of gateway between the western world and the Middle East. Then gunmen linked to ISIS killed another twenty in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, and then ISIS pulled off their most deadly attack killing at least 121 in Baghdad. Droves of people are being murdered around the world and here in the states we are watching racial tensions lead us to a new level of hate where people now embrace “their killers” based on race or profession. I have seen friends on social media post about inequality because “Our murderers are dead and your murderers receive a paid vacation”. Really? That is where we are as a nation? And then at least 6,000 Turkish military personnel rise up under the leadership of an Islamic minority group in an attempted Coup of the government.
The world is in a tragic state. As Americans, we regularly look only as far as our own backyard and we are all in an uproar about Black and Blue lives that matter wile nations are quite literally falling apart and killing one another at much more alarming rates. Yes, I believe that black lives and blue lives matter. I also grieve for the hundreds who have been murdered this week while celebrating their version of Christmas all around the world, and the entire nation of Turkey (and Syria and many African nations) who have lost all sense of security in their worlds. Just consider what would change if a military coup occurred in the US. Jobs, schooling, the banks, all of our retirement plans, all of our “rights” and expectations as fat and happy citizens would be instantaneously changed or gone. Everything.
But that is Turkey, not here. We will keep fighting over who has to make a cake for whom and consequently bemoan the terrible injustices we encounter daily.
Corrie Ten Boom is one of those people who exemplified the most remarkable faith and has forever impacted my life and worldview. She, along with her family, were Dutch nationals who helped hide and rescue Jews during WWII. The family was arrested for their actions and Corrie was imprisoned alongside her sister Betsie in concentration camps. Betsie died in the camp. The girls led Bible studies, worship services and continually praised God throughout their imprisonment, and after the war ended Corrie returned to the Netherlands where she began a rehabilitation center for concentration camp survivors. The girls’ faith was poignant and bold – praising God for even the fleas in their barracks, which they only later learned were the reason that the guards did not come in to rape and harass the women as they did the other women. Corrie made this simple, yet profound statement:
“If you look at the world, you will be distressed.
If you look within, you will be depressed.
If you look at Christ, you will be at rest.”
– Corrie Ten Boom
Can you imagine: quite literally starving to death, being worked with the intention of extermination, fearing for your life with no relief in sight, living in barracks with no heat and infested by fleas, having no idea the fate of your family and loved ones, and all the while being able to say, “Look to Jesus and you will be at rest”?
How can we be at rest? Perhaps you live in fear of the police. Perhaps you are a police man living in fear of random assassination. Perhaps you look at the upcoming election with fear, considering both of the candidates unfit to lead our country. Perhaps you look at the alarming rate at which ISIS is growing, attacks are being successfully carried out and governments are failing. Perhaps you are stuck in your own little bubble – needing a job, fretting about retirement or arguing about social injustice because someone looked at you funny. And all of these things are things worth discussing and fighting for (or against). But these things are not eternal, and these things – if rectified – will not bring us joy and peace. Only Jesus can do that.
“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
– John 16.33
Jesus has already overcome the world. He has defeated sin and eternal death, and is delaying the end of the Age for the salvation of many. But the war is already over, the end has already been written and we know that He will bring all of His own into His final rest. But He also offers rest now, while we are still living on this Earth. How? By assurance that our eternity is secure and promising that everything that happens on Earth is working out to His glory and our Spiritual best. God’s best for the Ten Boom family was obedience to protect Jews, incarceration in a labor camp, murder for some of them, and unthinkable suffering. They were given faith about which most of us can only dream. They were sustained through trials – the likes of which would send many of us into depression and abandonment of the faith.
Our eternal life has already begun in the New Birth, and eternal life is simply knowing Him:
“This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”
– John 17.3
Do you know God? If you do, then you have eternal life. If you do not, then you do not yet have eternal life. We will have worldly suffering and trials. We have difficulties. Just like Jesus did. Just like the apostles did. Just like the early church did. But all we have to do is look to Jesus, and we will have rest. Let’s look to Him today – while we are fighting for justice, while we are praying for our nation and the world, while we are seeking economic stability and while we are planning for the future. Look to Jesus and have rest.
– Matt 11.28