The year 2020 has been turbulent, to say the least. No matter where you live, there is something happening. The chaotic confusion brought on by the sudden emergence of a global pandemic. Fear of learning you or a loved one is COVID-19 positive. Concerns over the economic instability created by lock-downs and partial business closures. The vanishing toilet paper! Political arguments about whether or not to wear a mask. In the midst of this, unfortunate acts of racial injustice have resulted in both peaceful protests and, unfortunately, riots and other violent acts.
Americans may think I am only talking about their country. But the turmoil over COVID itself and the proper response to it are ongoing worldwide. George Floyd’s death has ignited questions about justice in Israel over the treatment of Ethiopian Jews and Palestinians and in Australia over Aboriginal deaths in police custody. As always, there is also political unrest. China is cracking down on Hong Kong, provoking border skirmishes with India, and threatening Christian churches they cannot reopen unless they teach loyalty to the Party. Then there’s the locusts . . . in Kenya . . . in Pakistan. (In case you forgot about the ecological troubles.)
And so the question arises, how can we find peace in such a troubled world? Where can it be found. Isaiah also wrestled with this quest for peace in chapter 57 verses 15-21. He describes life apart from God as a tossing sea full of mire and mud. But he tells us there is a God of peace sitting above this troubled world, just as Genesis 1 tells us the Spirit of God hovered over the chaotic waters. Genesis 1 “ends” on day 7, but God has never stopped his work of bringing order and stability out of chaos and turmoil. Though he could destroy us in an instant, he patiently bears with us in our sin and injustice, prompting us forward. Calling us to repentance.
God offers peace to those far away and to those near to him. He offers healing and comfort, if we but accept it. So how do we find this peace he offers? Isaiah tells us that God not only lives in a high and lofty place far above the turmoil, but–amazingly–God also chooses to live in the midst of the turmoil, with those who are contrite and lowly in spirit. To know God, you must humble yourself and give your fears and insecurities over to God. To know peace, you must first be contrite and seek forgiveness for your sins and prejudicial thoughts. Then, you can find peace in the midst of chaos, like Betty and Curtis Tarpley. Married for 53 years, they both contracted COVID and died on June 18 within an hour of each other. Yet despite the illness, they died hand in hand, the image of peace, grace, and love in the midst of troubled times.