From the Desk of Matt Shedd
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
As I watch the news today, I am reminded of this exchange between Gandalf and Frodo from Tolkien’s epic masterpiece Lord of the Rings. As I watch unrest burst forth into violence, I wish it need not have happened in my time. As members of this nation cause mayhem, I wish it need not have happened in my time. As I reflect on the past year, filled with accusations, lies, protests, mobs, violence, vitriol, partisanship, I wish it need not have happened in my time.
In Gandalf’s response is two words of wisdom that I need to remember today. The first is simply this—we are not alone in this feeling. “So do all who live to see such times…” Such times. This moment is not truly unique. This event is not truly unprecedented. My personal devotion time today included Genesis 6, which says, “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” and “Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence.” To borrow the words of J.M. Barrie, “All of this has happened before, and it will happen again.” As we grieve this day, we join a larger chorus of mourners, mourning the evil that has come into this world time and again.
Gandalf’s second great piece of advice is that we must decide how to proceed. “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us,” he encourages. And what is to be done? I am sure that there are many people making suggestions and plans of what to do this moment. But what are we, my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, to do in this moment? How are we to respond to what we are seeing on our televisions right now? How are we to handle the shock, pain, fear, and anger that we are experiencing today?
I pray that we:
Turn Off Our Televisions
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8
We will find nothing true, lovely or worthy of praise on the news tonight, so turn it off. We do not need to be inundated with non-stop coverage to be informed. Choose to invest time in things that will renew your mind.
“First of all then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” 1 Timothy 2:1-2
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” Philippians 4:6-7
Submit Your Thoughts to Jesus
“Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.” Proverbs 17:28
We live in a world of instant opinion. We are all encouraged to vocalize every thought we have, but Scripture tells us to “take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ.” Do not share your thoughts, submit your thoughts to Jesus.
Resolve to Love Our Neighbors More Fervently
“If you really fulfill the royal law according to Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well.” James 2:8
“Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” Romans 13:10
Call a neighbor to join you in prayer, write a card or bake them a loaf of bread. Love is the Christian calling, therefore let us do it well.
Examine Our Hearts
“For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O Lord, from my youth” Psalm 71:5
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6
As I reflect on my own feelings and emotions today, I am reminded that our hope is not in government. There is no hope in liberalism; no hope in conservatism. There is no true hope from the Democrats or Republicans. There is no true hope found in the United States. Our hope is found in one name, Jesus our Christ. Jesus our King. He is hope. Let us examine our hearts. Let us renounce false gods who have taken up residence, and let us return our hope to Christ alone.
Keep the Faith
As I read the book of Revelation, I notice again and again that the book is written to Christians who are not altogether different from us. They are dealing with fear, they are wrestling with temptation, and they are enticed to place their trust in the lesser gods of power and money. Revelation is written to encourage them to overcome, by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony. They are called to keep the faith, as are we. As I reflect on what I have witnessed the past year, and especially what has transpired today, I wish it need not have happened in my time. I choose, however, to be faithful to Christ in the time that He has given me.