Different but the Same
Most nights I go to bed anxious. Anxious about the turmoil across our country and our world. Anxious about the place where my little boys will grow up and the challenges they will face.
The past few months have shocked us with pain, turmoil, and anger. They have marked us and made us. Life will look different, even after we return to our normal routines.
As I worry about the unknowns ahead, I’m reminded that Solomon told us, “There is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9).
Our problems are unique, but they are not new. Just take a look at the Bible’s history.
Anger turned to murder within the first few pages of Genesis. Slavery marks the pages of Exodus. Racism confronted the prophets. Gender inequality ran rampant in Jesus’ days.
Every generation faces issues of inequality, suffering, and injustice. Today it’s our turn. So how can we respond with courage and conviction — bringing about redemptive change?
Resist Fear. Throughout the Psalms, David reminds us that though the nations rage, God is on his throne. As a warrior and world leader in his day, those truths steeled David in the face of adversity.
They should do the same for us. God isn’t caught off guard by pandemics. He isn’t undone by stay-at-home orders. He isn’t shocked by riots. He presides over all of it. And even in the midst of the messiness of it, He will accomplish his purposes.
When fear clamps down on our shoulders, remember who sits on the ultimate throne. He is in complete control and will not abandon us when life gets hard, confusing, and uncertain. Instead he is working through it.
Teach old truths. As I look at the new day before us, I’m more committed than ever to teach my children old truths. It’s the only way they’ll know how to navigate turbulent times — by looking back to those who’ve come before them.
As I open the Bible with them, I want them to know the characters, their stories, and the lessons they learned the hard way. Those who penned their stories don’t sugarcoat — they’re honest about the prejudice, immorality, and injustice.
That’s why their lives teach us so much. They tell us the hard truths we need to hear. They expose our wrong motives and behaviors. They point us to a new way and the redemptive response required during challenging times.
Show uncommon grace. No one teaches us more about confronting obstacles and showing grace than Jesus. He ate with sinners. He taught women. He exposed false piety and racism.
The most poignant moments in Jesus’ ministry seldom took place in front the crowds. Instead they happened around Matthew’s dinner table as Jesus hung out with his friends. They arose as Jesus sat by a well or reclined at Martha’s home. They surfaced while he talked with a self-righteous young lawyer.
Jesus’ encounters teach us that real change doesn’t happen through violence, rhetoric, or dramatic displays. Change happens when each of us live as Jesus did — extending unexpected and uncommon grace. Will I treat the person next to me with dignity, regardless of their race? Will I extend kindness to the people around me, regardless of their socioeconomic status? When I see a need, will I stop and meet it, refusing to pretend that I do not to see?
Today the world looks different. But the truths that anchor our soul are still the same. We can live them out and pass them on.
How will you live different — but the same — today?