A New Year of peace, tolerance

By Jessica Brodie

As I write this column, so many are in anguish across the nation and the world—about the grand jury’s decision not to indict the officer who killed Michael Brown, and the still-fresh scars of long-seated racism and prejudice the shooting elicited. About the 132 schoolchildren the Pakistani Taliban shot and set ablaze, citing religious and political motivation. About the scores of Christian martyrs, adults and children alike, beheaded by ISIS in the Mideast. About the hatred, intolerance and rampant bullying of gays and lesbians.

The list goes on.

We live in an imperfect world, where in the blink of an eye your cousin could get hit by a car or an earthquake could level half of California, where an innocent trip to the convenience store could find you face-to-face with an armed robber.

And no matter what we do—no matter how many rules we make or guns we stockpile or flood insurance we buy—bad things are going to happen sometimes. As Christians, we try to do good works and be kind, to prepare for the worst and advocate for “the least of these.” But the reality is that when the tornado comes, it comes. And we pick up the pieces after.

Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).

Later, Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33)

Times are hard, my friends. But Jesus walks with us—through the racism and the mass killings, through the slaughter of the innocents and the homophobia. He is right there by our side, the Great Comforter.

This New Year, I pray that you—and I—will experience joy and blessings beyond measure, and turn that joy outward, toward our neighbor. I pray that we will do our part to be tolerant and love each other despite whatever sins we feel the other may have committed (he who casts the first stone…). I pray that we will strive toward a peaceful society and serve as a peaceful example ourselves.

And I pray we remember no matter what happens, good or bad, Jesus is with us.

Happy New Year, my friends.

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