Our country has experienced significant stress for an extended period of time. We've witnessed race rallies, intrigue and stalemate accentuating the political divide in our nation, and millions of our fellow Americans in Houston desperately seeking relief in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. The country is reeling as people sense national stress just turning reading the news. And this is just in the past month!
The challenge with stress of any kind is that it is so consuming. It pulls you in, screams, "Pay attention to me, right now!" and leaves you emotionally and physically exhausted. Protected stress produces a spiritual numbness. Humans simply weren't wired for extended stress.
I know that when there seems to be a lot of stress, to-do lists and conflict in my own life it can be difficult to look past it to the beauty of life. The beauty of life you ask? I thought we were talking about stress. Can there really be anything beautiful during such tumultuous moments? Yes! No matter the challenge, the conflict, or the upheaval beauty can be found. And it is essential to look for it if we are ever going regain a sense of wonder in the midst of the storm.
Today while reflecting with God in my personal time, He showed me the following verse and once again, I realized just how beautiful life truly is—even in chaos: "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, so that we should walk in them" (Eph. 2:10).
In the midst of tragedy and fear trying to engulf our own country this week, we have watched as people from all different backgrounds have come together to support those in Houston. America started being America again. There is nothing more beautiful or powerful than the church acting like the church!
I have watched the beauty unfold as people have set aside their differences to focus on a more important cause: Loving one another.
Isn't that beautiful?
The King James Version of I Corinthians 13:13 echoes this thought. "And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity." Would you agree with me that faith is powerful? It moves mountains (Matt 17:20). And hope is essential for us to move into our future. Just think of Jeremiah 29:11 (MEV): "For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for peace and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." Hope keeps our vision clear to operate in faith.
Yet, Paul comes along and says: "You think faith is powerful and hope is encouraging? There is still something much greater and more beautiful than either of these two giant virtues." What is it Paul we ask? "Love." The whole context of 1 Corinthians 13 reminds us that is the most beautiful thing in the world.
We are God's handiwork created to do good works through the overflow of Christ's love. Notice there is no caveat for difficult, painful, stressful situations. Paul doesn't say do the good works already prepared for you—except, of course, when it's too difficult. Quite to the contrary, the historical context of the New Testament makes it clear the believers abounded in good works not in spite of the challenges of persecution and hardship, but because of them. They knew the beauty of walking in Christ's love.
Yes, there are going to be stressful situations, never-ending to-do lists and conflicts as we go through life. But as the verse in Ephesians reminds us, God has already prepared situations in advance for us to be able to handle anything that comes our way and to finish it in victory through love.
Yes, there will be struggle, but through it you will find relief.
Yes, there will be damage, but in it you will find healing.
Yes, there will be disaster, but in it you will find beauty.
There is nothing God hasn't already prepared for us in our own lives to live in victory.
There is nothing that will ever take God by surprise.
Instead of focusing on the negative today, take a step back and focus on the beauty of each situation you are facing. You have the opportunity to walk in the love of Christ. You are His hands and feet no matter how difficult or dark the situation. Focus on what God has provided you and the solution rather than the problem.
Mikel French has challenged spiritual awakening all across America, where many celebrations extended into multiple weeks, and has conducted celebrations in France, Sweden, Russia, Romania, Poland, Ukraine, Moldova, Serbia, Germany, South Africa, Malawi, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Haiti, Japan, Singapore, India and Thailand. He conducted an outreach celebration in Manila, Philippines, reaching 200,000 teenagers with the book of hope. Through the generous support of partners, he has presented the message of Jesus Christ to millions of people in the nation of Russia through televised citywide soul-winning celebrations. Mikel considers it an honor to assist in conducting the annual pastor's conference, where thousands of pastors from Russia's 11 time zones come for training, teaching and equipping. Mikel and his wife, Marsha, reside in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Rebecca Moore contributed to this article.
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