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Devotional: February 23, 2022

“When reports come in of wars and rumored wars, keep your head and don’t panic. This is routine history; this is no sign of the end. Nation will fight nation and ruler fight ruler, over and over. Famines and earthquakes will occur in various places. This is nothing compared to what is coming.” Matthew 24: 5-8 The Message In this passage, Jesus speaks about “wars and rumors of war.” Yesterday, there were reports in the news that Putin’s Russian forces have entered some of the Eastern parts of Ukraine. In other words, we could be witnessing the start of another war… My point in writing is not to analyze this troublesome development, as there are many military, political, and international specialists who are far more qualified to offer their expert opinions. Yet I believe it is worth focusing on this scripture. Why? Here Jesus speaks about how people of faith should respond to wartime news, and even rumors of war, as well as news of famine and earthquakes. All of these events can cause pain and suffering. Perhaps the overall message of Jesus could be summarized in his very first pronouncement: “Keep your head, and don’t panic.” Jesus counsels us to keep a level head, and a calm outlook on all of life. Keeping our wits about us is advised even when our hearts are racing with the news of the day. Admittedly, this is easier said than done! When people around us are panicking, it can be easy to get caught up in their fear. Soon, our worst fears are spun up. Our minds may be so focused on “worst case scenarios” that we end up being of no use to anyone. Jesus calls us to faith, rather than to fear, or to have faith in spite of our fears. Unfortunately, wars or rumors of war are not unusual. Jesus reminds his listeners of this fact. In his translation of “The Message”, Eugene Petersen may have stretched it a bit to characterize wars and rumors of war as “routine history.” Catastrophic events are going to happen in our world. They occur far more often than we would ever want to see, on both a large scale and a small scale. God is in control, even when parts of our world are in turmoil. We must pray for ALL affected by terrible events like war, famine, and earthquakes. Our role is not to panic, but to pray. Stay calm, and encourage others to do the same. Provide help when possible. Even when the princes of our world are making war, we are called to have faith in the Prince of Peace. Therefore, let us place our faith in our loving, omnipotent, and powerful God. He is able to turn swords into plowshares. The Almighty can comfort the sick, and provide shelter to all who call upon His name. Prayer God of us all, Help me to look to You when things around me feel like they are falling apart. May I find strength in You, stepping forward to meet each day’s challenges. Forgive me when I spend more time talking to others about the pain and suffering, than talking to You. May I find peace in You, and may I help bring peace to others. Rather than fear, let Your peace reign in my heart. I pray this prayer in the name of Your Son, the Prince of Peace. Amen.

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