Let’s face reality for a moment. Today, life in America is pretty crazy. We live in a highly politicized society, a highly sexualized and also very dysfunctional society. People aren’t happy and stressors don’t seem to be lacking. You are abnormal if you are unaffected by Russia and Ukraine, inflation, gas prices, and any other headline making its way through the population. There is so much on our minds and so little comfort to be found.
Honestly, stressing about life, while common, is not good. God did not call his children to live stressed or unhappy lives.
But if we exist in a time when so many things are vying for our attention and so many things seem to be going wrong at the same time, what do we do? Is there a way to find peace? The answer is yes. In short, we divert our attention from the news, from the problems and from ourselves. Rather, we look to God and remember His Word.
In other words, we trade problems for Truth.
The next time emotions swell within you, anxiety clouds your judgment, or you fear the end of the world, turn to God. Here are 3 parables to read when you need comfort.
The parable of the mustard seed
The parable of the mustard seed can be read in the fourth chapter of the book of Mark. In this brief account, Jesus provides a visual illustration to explain the power of the Christian faith. He compares the kingdom of God to “a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. Yet once planted, it grows to be the tallest of all garden plants, with branches so big that birds can roost in its shade” (Mark 4:31-32).
This parable speaks of the glory that comes from cultivating faith. And faith is cultivated through humility. Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5). If we think less of the kingdom of God and more of our individual faith, we will see that Jesus’ words have the same application. Our individual faith is like the tree. We begin to cultivate a belief system early or later in life, and through continual experiences with God, we reinforce that belief. We water our faith which grows like a tree.
God does not expect us to be perfect, but does want us to believe. If we take that first step, then God will work in us to perfect us. It is the transition from seed to tree.
More concretely, humility allows us to exchange our will for that of God. It is then that we find comfort. Humility says, “I don’t know, but God knows. We get elated by bad circumstances in due time and eventually find the comfort we desire, and sometimes the comfort we didn’t know we needed (1 Peter 5:6).
The Parable of the Persistent Widow
In Luke 18 we encounter another short parable of Jesus, this one detailing the difficult circumstances faced by an unnamed widow. She had a problem with an unspecified “adversary” and kept going to the city judge to exact her revenge. She wanted justice done, but the judge had no interest in helping her. The widow decided to continue proposing to the listless and seemingly unchanging man. Jesus does not say how often the woman harassed the judge, but she continued to plead her case, time and time again.
This judge who was unfaithful and apathetic towards others ended up changing his mind. His constant, and probably emotional, pleas wore the man’s hardened heart.
Jesus compared the judge to God. The unjust man was slow to act on the woman’s behalf and his care for her was non-existent. God is just the opposite with us. He is acting on our behalf, perhaps not at the desired speed, but He is definitely acting. Moreover, God takes care of us because he cares about us. The woman was able to find comfort with the judge after he worked to support her. With God, we can find his perfect peace even before our circumstances change (Isaiah 26:3).
What we need to do is be persistent like the widow, persistent in prayer, and persistent to make sure that our focus is on God. The widow’s adversary could have been another person, or the adversary could be a symbol of an internal struggle. Either way, we can surely identify the threats to our lives that exist within us, as well as the problems that don’t exist.
The parable of the good samaritan
Luke 10 offers a very popular parable that even non-believers mention from time to time. The parable of the Good Samaritan serves to remind us of the second greatest commandment. Jesus calls us to love others as ourselves (Matthew 22:39). In this parable, two people whom society calls to hate each other have defied expectations. A Samaritan helped a Jew.
We should refer to this passage whenever we ask ourselves whether or not to hate or act against certain people in our lives. While some members of society wish to de-stigmatize paedophilia, what are we doing in response? There are people who teach sex to young children. How do we treat them? And what about people who mistreat Russians just because they are Russians and their home country is invading another?
The Scriptures do not suggest that we treat everyone exactly the same, quite the contrary. That being said, passages like this parable serve as a guide for how we conduct our lives in a way that honors God. Living life in a godly manner is bound to bring us peace in the end.
Reading the Word of God is a sure practical solution to the stress that surrounds our minds. Through the Word of God, we learn to submit to his will. We learn to trust God and trust Him, not our circumstances. We are beginning to realize more and more that the current world is disappearing. Today is temporary and always gives way to tomorrow. We get the most out of life when we don’t waste our time dwelling on the negative and what we can’t control. Let us instead turn our attention to what is good in life and to all the good that God has given.
Some of us may need to change the subject of certain conversations when we get together with friends. Some of us may need a break from the news or social media. Either way, a change of perspective is needed. With God at the forefront of our minds, everything else will fall into place naturally. We just have to make sure we’re doing our part too.
“You will seek me and you will find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)
Photo credit: ©Ben White/Unsplash
Aaron Brown is a freelance writer, hip-hop dance teacher, and visual artist, living in Virginia. He currently contributes to iBelieve, Crosswalk and supports various clients through the Upwork platform. He’s an outside-the-box thinker with a penchant for challenging the status quo. Discover his new “Serenity”.