Peace in tribulation- about the pure source of truth.
"Do not be indignant with the wicked; do not be envious of the evildoers. 2 For like the grass they will soon wither, and like the green herb they will wither. 3 Hope in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed thyself uprightly. 4 Delight thyself in the LORD; he shall give thee that which thine heart desireth. 5 Commit thy ways unto the LORD, and hope in him: he shall prosper thee. 6 And he shall bring up thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday. 7 Be still unto the LORD, and wait for him. Be not indignant against him that is well pleased, that worketh his wantonness. 8 Stand from wrath, and cease from anger; be not indignant against him that doeth wrong. 9 For the wicked shall be cut off: but they that wait upon the LORD shall inherit the land. 10 Yet a little while, and the wicked shall be no more; and when thou lookest for his place, he shall be gone. 11 But the wretched shall inherit the land, and have their joy in great peace." (Psalm 37:1 ff, Luther)
My dear friends, dear women of God,
no feeling is so ugly, so hopeless and so desolate as the feeling of having been cheated.
Cheated out of beauty, out of friendship, taken advantage of for goodness and kindness, generosity and trust.
In the last weeks this was the dominant theme I was confronted with, on a spiritual level, on a worldly level - very personally - but also in conversations with others.
Again and again it was about the same experiences: That good feelings, sincerity, and the honest search for truth were torpedoed. That it turned out that one's own faithful motives of love, affection or even mercy and freedom from prejudice only led in the end to the ugly face of lies laughing in one's face. It was about abuse of leadership positions, pretense, and what the Bible calls whitewashed tombs-something that hides its own ugliness behind a saccharine facade of hypocrisy-often with overly emotional manipulation.
We as Christians are vulnerable to this deception because what we know is that God is good-at least we should. We know the generosity of our Lord, and in gratitude and in humility we want to pass on what we have been given. Often, however, we clash diametrically with this world- with the very non-sincere motives of those who do not have Jesus- often even when they pretend to. When we collide with the greedy motives of those who misuse his name for their own enrichment - apparently without any sense of shame or recognizable remorse, then something breaks down in us.
Very deep and very final.
The world of the Adversary is a world of lies and jugglery, because he himself is called the father of lies. I think that we often underestimate how masterfully he knows his craft, how skillfully he twists the truth so that we fall for it again and again. Why is that? Because he uses half-truths.
We recognize the truth in the words and tend to classify what just does not correspond to the truth as a lack of (self)-knowledge, as a growth process. We want to believe in the good, and we want to make a difference in this world. Mercifully. With kindness. But sometimes that attitude is the real stumbling block that brings ourselves down.
Every time we end up staring into the grimace of lies, a little bit of our willingness to give of ourselves- to bless, to help, to trust- breaks away. And often, secretly, we also feel betrayed by God. By the loss of a person who was close to us. For the time we would have liked to have left. For the hope we had. For the trust that he will protect us from illness, from death, from deceiving ourselves. For preservation on our paths.
This feeling often leaves me with a deep sense of helplessness.
It seems as if the sea roars so loudly, so much suffering happens, that the measure must be full! The inner indignation, when one sees oneself exploited or wrongly judged, bruised for truth or confronted with brazen lies - it is engrossing and makes us scream. To rage, to the desire to hack everything short and small - and to tears of disappointment.
Was God not faithful after all? Has he not preserved us? Have his promises perhaps long since been forgotten? How can we go on like this, if everything we have given from the heart was ultimately only casting pearls before swine? Our first impulse is to build higher the walls that surround us. We swear to ourselves that nothing like this will ever happen to us again, that we will never let ourselves be robbed like this again-and deep within us arises the desire that the mountains may collapse upon the one who has committed such an infamous, wicked injustice against us.
Many lose their faith at this point. What can one trust in, if one could not trust this person oneself? What can one build on when so obviously, even where the Holy Spirit was supposed to reign, scandals and downright worldly advertising concepts end up revealing that what one saw as church planting is actually a fully engineered, for-profit franchise concept? How to offer what one has to offer oneself, ever again, out of mercy and far below cost, to those who have nothing, when one is then cheated out of the little one asked for in return? How to deal with greed, with intemperance and with exploitation?
The indignation is high. And there is much we do not want to see. We don't want to see that the false Christ, the anti-Christ, has been raging in the churches for a long time, driving people into his clutches with drug-like illusions. We don't want to believe that the church leader we admire is in reality an obscenely rich guy who just sells his products, and doesn't even stop at donations. We don't want to believe that kind of thing about each other. And that's- that's where Satan hooks in.
It is a sad truth that we are more easily manipulated than we want to be.
The ways- they are not even particularly spiritual. Basically, hypnosis, advertising psychology, playing with the desire to belong, fraternization and complicity are often enough to activate our inner desires. How much thought control and tractability really lies within us, we realize when we think about how much sincere compassion still arises now when we think about the Ukraine war. How many people are really still praying. Long since- we have turned to the next issues, long since- we have jumped on the next bandwagon.
What remains? What remains when we gradually realize that methods in which we believed, that perhaps even denominations in which we are rooted, turn out to be false, fraudulent, manipulative, lies? What is left when we have to recognize that there seems to be no realm in which to be safe, in which clear, pure truth gushes? Loving, nurturing, clean, refreshing?
The last few days have been gray. November gray. This morning I woke up and everything is white. Snow fell from the sky in thick flakes, everything was covered by this winter magic, disappeared under pure, fresh, calm white. I know underneath it's slushy, it's bare, it's cold. But my eye, it rests on the snow, the peace and beauty it brings. For this moment, I look to the good and the true.
Yes, the darkness is real. Yes, there are people doing business with Jesus. Yes, there is deception in churches. Yes, there is false teaching. Yes, there are those who will always take advantage of your goodness.
Don't be one of them. Make a difference. Look to the One who promised that judgment will come that will bring justice.
Look to the promise of eternity: the lie, the death, the illusion will give way, and what we will see will be like the peace of a winter forest, like the innocence of a child's laugh, and as pure and genuine as a diamond.
Whatever happens: Don't stop loving, hoping and believing. And the next time someone asks for your help, take the same risk again. It is good to follow God. And the reward of those who do will be great.
Peace to you, in this second week of Advent. Jesus does not deceive us.Never. He is pure truth.
Sibylle/Daughter of Zion.