PEACE OR PANDEMONIUM

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PEACE OR PANDEMONIUM

Peace or pandemonium?  That’s the question!

I fear that peace is in short supply these days.  Though there is certainly strife in our country, most of us lived in comparative peace until Covid-19 raised its ugly head and succeeded in stripping away that peace which we enjoyed so casually a few weeks ago.  

As a country, America has had its ups and downs, but never, since the civil war, have we fought a major war on our own turf.  We have sent our boys to Korea, Vietnam, and the Persian Gulf, and we are still engaged in armed conflict in The Middle East.  However, unless you have loved ones involved in the fight, being thousands of miles removed from the scene serves to make the whole thing a little less real.  It is amazing how we can go about our everyday lives without giving it a thought.

Now finally, war has come to our own shores—not a war fought with bullets and bombs, but war none the less—a deadly and damaging war.  We find ourselves fighting an enemy about which we know very little.  

This pandemic has disrupted daily life, altered global economy (1.3 billion dollars loss on oil and gas, and the loss of two-thirds of our restaurant industry), killed almost a quarter-million people and reminded us all not to be tricked by complacency, and an atmosphere of comfort and safety, for we are really never far from a disaster.

To some degree, this is a traumatic time for all of us.  For those who have lost jobs and homes and businesses, for those who can no longer pay the bills, and are perhaps wondering where the next meal is coming from, and for those who have lost loved ones this is a dark and devastating time.

For all of our technology, our best weapon against this enemy is simple.  “Stay at home and don’t get too close to anyone else.” My governor has extended our “Shelter in Place” quarantine by two weeks, until the middle of May.  Honestly, I am aching to go to church, to see and interact with my friends and family but, at the same time, I am kind of hesitant about mingling with crowds of people again.  What if it is too soon?  What if Covid-19 is still out there ready to pounce? 

However, many people are fed up with the quarantine.  They are tired of isolation, and they are beginning to question the wisdom of having closed down everything.  Protest rallies are cropping up here and there, and mobs are marching on state capitals.  Placards read, “LIBERATE THE STATES,” “FREEDOM,” “OPEN THE U.S. NOW,” “WE’RE REVOLTING,” “END THE LOCKDOWN.”  As people take to the streets demanding their freedom, peace disappears and pandemonium takes over.  

John Milton, in his epic poem “Paradise Lost,” coined the word Pandemonium as the name for the capital of Hell—“the place of all demons.”  Today the word refers to a place of chaos and confusion or a wild uproar or tumult.  A homespun definition would be, “when all hell breaks loose.”

I believe that our leaders are honestly trying to determine when we can best and most safely return to normal living, but, when it comes to this virus, most of them are novices just as we are.  They don’t know any more about it than we do.  They must take the word of those who are struggling from day to day to find the answers, and the longer we have to wait, the more likely it is that unhappy citizens will revolt, and “All hell WILL break loose.”  

One day, I’m confident, life will return to normal, but it won’t be the normal that we knew.  I am praying that it will be a better normal.  I am praying that we will be more thoughtful, kinder, and cautious, and more aware of God’s goodness.  We may have to live with some shortages for a while.  Perhaps we cannot all attend church at the same time, because there must be some kind of crowd control, at least at the beginning, and sitting six feet apart in the restaurant may be a problem.

As difficult and upsetting as this whole trial has been, I have learned and relearned truths—some wonderful and some not.  I am impressed by the kindness of strangers.  I am humbled by the devotion and commitment of our medical personnel, and I am offended by the sheer meanness of many government leaders. 

The most wonderful truth I have relearned is that it is possible to live in perfect peace even in the middle of the battle, even when the world is in turmoil.

Philippians 4:7, “And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ.” 

Isaiah 9:6, speaking of Jesus, says, “…His name shall be called…Prince of Peace.”

Isaiah 26:3 gives good counsel, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”

The message is this.  Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, is our only source of real peace.  His peace is beyond understanding.  He has promised, if we trust in Him and keep our minds on Him instead of on our problems, He will give us His perfect peace.

I choose HIS PEACE over PANDEMONIUM any day!

Remember, the sun will come out tomorrow!