War in the Gaza Strip, murder in the skies above the Ukraine, and persecution of Christians in Iraq: everywhere we look we can see death and destruction. And yet if we look for it we can also see the good around us. The Commonwealth Games have started, celebrating unity, perseverance, and the potential of the human body; Maori language week has promoted unity through he taonga te reo; and a “gratefulness challenge” is doing the rounds on social media.
Are we wrong, or “shallow” to focus on these glimpses of light when there is so much darkness in the world? No, I don’t think so. Nearly two thousand years ago, in a time of racism, slavery, and persecution Paul said to the believers “Whatever is true, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” (Phillippians 4:8). Then as now, focusing on the good helps fortify our minds against the darkness around us. That is not to say we can ignore what is going on - we are told to “mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15) and we should add our voices to the call for justice and freedom – but as we celebrate what is good we are saying “there must be another way.” And there is: Jesus said “I am the way, the truth and the life,” (John 14:16) giving us hope and direction for our personal lives and assurance for eternity. He also promised to come back to restore this world of death and destruction to God’s perfect design of a world of joy, freedom, and life.
So as we wait for His return, seeking out moments of light, and speaking out against the darkness, we can trust in a God who has an ultimate plan, and earnestly pray “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…”
Larisa moved to Gisborne with her Gizzy-born husband John, in 2006 and joined Mangapapa Union Parish where she is now one of the worship leaders. Larisa, who has been a Christian since learning about Jesus at the Kaukapapakapa (North of AKL) Youth Group, is passionate about the power of the Gospel to transform lives and believes that this starts at home. "Love God, love others."