Chaotic, unpredictable, gripped with tension — all of this describes the year 2016. Political events likely caused more than one argument among friends and family members, or at least a heated discussion. And as Americans, we not only witnessed the election of a new president in a contentious year but saw terrorism and turmoil around the world as well.
Now, in this New Year, we wonder: Will it be a year filled with promise, achievement, and happiness — or tragedy? And what will our own personal lives be like?
Everyone welcomes the fresh start, and as part of it, harmony with others. Yet how is that possible, both in political matters and in our day-to-day relationships? How can we agree even if only to agree to disagree?
Scripture teaches us several simple steps to follow:
1.) Graciousness always wins over gloating.
Proverbs 15:1 says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” The wisdom of King Solomon is still relevant. When a person is baited or berated, the wisest way to respond is with gentleness. That’s not weakness but a way to diffuse someone else’s frustration. It’s about hearing what is being said and allowing someone the opportunity to be heard.
2.) God provides unity.
Paul exhorts in Romans 15:5-6, “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice, you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” It might seem impossible to embrace those with whom we disagree, but that’s because it is impossible apart from God. Remember God sees us with grace and mercy. When we rely on Him for unity, He not only abundantly gives — we in turn honor Him.
3.) Peace comes with understanding.
People of faith are described in Psalm 112:7 this way: “They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.” Whatever lies ahead, God is in control. He will still protect and provide. There is no circumstance, no matter how fantastic or dismal it seems, that comes into our lives apart from His control. When our hearts trust in Christ, there is no need to fear.
It’s one thing to read these ancient words and contemplate what they mean in this year of 2017. It’s another thing to put them into practice.
The method is simply through prayer: prayer for our country, our president, our people. Prayer unifies us, dissolves our disagreements, reminds us who we worship and where we ultimately place our hope.
Whether the idea of prayer and faith in God are new to us or are practices we’ve held for years, remember what we have in common. It will strengthen us as individuals and as a nation — and help us let go of defenses and animosity.
Katie Nations, married for 15 years, is a working mom of three young children. She lives in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.