What are we to do in the face of hatred, suffering, persecution, conflict -- of evil?
I am weary of this world... of celebrities, of lawmakers, of elections, of businesses trying to dictate morality, of people calling each other bigots, of social media, of dealing with other people and complex emotions and problems, of disunity, of annoyances, of trying to understand or help others, of absolutes becoming relative in our culture. I am tired of humanity and our sinful nature. I am burdened by it. I feel crushed by it.
What am I to do when I am weary of this world? When the desire to remain quiet in the face of evil is strong, when the costs of speaking truth and love are high, when relationships are at risk of being damaged and character attacked - what do I do? When quitting would be easier, when I picture how much more culturally accepted I could be if I just wasn't Catholic, if I didn't care, if I went along with the popular opinions - do I give in? Oh, how the world would love me.
I am not always brave or strong to speak the Gospel, in fact it is relatively rare and it is something I don't feel proud of. Conflict creates knots in my stomach and I can't seem to focus on anything else or handle anything at all and I honestly try to avoid it at all costs. But that is not what we are called to as followers of Christ. This of the Apostles, the early Church fathers, of Christ Himself -- how uncomfortable did they make themselves for the sake of the Gospel? And what wonders did God work through their obedience? The concept of suffering goes against our human desires to live a cushy life, yet we are called to it.
The world promises you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness. — Pope Benedict XVI
Here are some verses that I find strength and rest in. I thought I'd share and hopefully offer some encouragement (even if just to myself).
Luke 18:7-8. "And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
Psalm 61:1-3 "Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the end of the earth I call to you, when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I; for you are my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy."
Matthew 11:28-29 "Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."
Galatians 6:7-10 "Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow. If you sow to your own flesh, you will reap corruption from the flesh; but if you sow to the Spirit, you will reap eternal life from the Spirit. So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. 10 So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith."
Matthew 5:10-12 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."
John 15:18-19 "If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you. If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world—therefore the world hates you."
And my favorite verse of all time, John 16:33 "I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!”
When we encounter seasons of darkness and trial, Jesus is right there with us. He's been there, done that. And he will see us through, for praise and the glory of His Kingdom. This might mean being called names, being threatened, losing our jobs, losing our homes, even losing our lives, but He will always be with us. If we look to God for guidance, He will lead us, protect us, comfort us through anything we might face.
Do you have any favorite verses of encouragement when you are weary? If so, please share -- I would love to add them to the list.