I was deeply honored to be interviewed recently on over a half dozen radio programs nationwide regarding the current state of violence and political unrest in the United States, from my perspective as a neuropsychologist and mental health provider. While the questions asked in each interview were varied, basically, each radio show host wanted to know how do we make sense of the violence in America, and what do we do about it?

Despite the tragic recent events in America, I maintain that we can still have hope.

Reverend Billy Graham said, “What oxygen is to the lungs, hope is to our survival in this world.” I think that is so true, and I think many Americans are feeling hopeless right now. But, we have hope.

So the question is, why are we seeing so much violence in our country, and what do we do about it?

Nelson Mandella wisely said, “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion. People learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

What we’re seeing is a lot of anger right now and a lot of hate. We’re seeing a lot of frustrated people taking situations into their own hands.

A battle between two wolves

I recently heard a story about a grandfather’s discussion with his grandson. The grandfather told his grandson, “Son, there is a battle between two wolves inside us all. One is Evil: it is anger, jealousy, greed, resentment, inferiority, lies, and ego. The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy, and truth.”

The boy listened carefully to his grandfather, and thought about what he said before asking, “Grandpa, which wolf wins?”

The older gentleman quietly replied, “The one you feed.”

As I contemplated that story, I realized it’s Biblical. Luke 6:45 tells us, “A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.”

So what we are taking in and what we are believing in our heart will come out in our words and our actions.

As a Christian American, I am grieved by what I see. I am grieved by the comments I hear by Christians toward other Christians with whom they disagree, and the comments I hear by Christians to non-Christians who disagree with their view points.

Scripture says others will know we are Christians by our love. “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples” (John 13:35 NLT). Yet, when we spread vitriol, that is not showing them Christ. That is not being a light to the dark world.

So it makes me wonder, what are we feeding our heart? We need to be in the word of God. We need to be in community and fellowship with other believers. We need to be listening more than we are speaking, so that we can try to understand other people’s perspective—that doesn’t mean we have to agree with them. But we must listen to understand and not pass judgment. Judgment is the Lord’s!

It’s not up to me to judge others. If I judge others, I will also be judged. “For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged” (Matthew 7:2). Scripture also says, “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you” (Matthew 6:14).

It’s comforting to me to know that we do not weep alone. As frustrated, saddened, and grieved as I am by the current climate in America and the recent acts of violence, we do not weep alone. God is weeping for His children. They were His children that were killed, and who someone attempted to kills. It’s not His desire that anyone would be killed—that grieves Him, and He is willing to listen to our grief and despair. “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you” (Jeremiah 29:12).

What are we going to do about it?

Several radio show hosts over the last few days asked a variety of questions, but the hardest question posed to me was, “What are we going to do about it? How are things going to change?” But if we can’t have a frank discussion about the moral compass today, and what God says, there is NO answer apart from God.

We have disallowed prayer in schools. As long as we have taken God out of our schools, and as long as we no longer respect the ten commandments, our future generations will not know the difference between what is right and what is wrong.

What does God say?

The answer ALWAYS comes back to God. What does God say? What does Scripture say? What would Jesus do? I believe the key for how we handle this is rooted in Romans 12:21, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

 

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21 #BibleVerse #faith# scripture

 

I don’t know about you, but when my feelings are hurt, when people have offended me, when people have treated me wrong, my flesh is hurt, and honestly part of me would like to get back at them. Part of me would like for them to hurt as much as they hurt me. But that is my flesh, and my sinful nature.

That is not what God says. He says overcome evil with good. It means loving those who hurt us. It means letting God fight the battle for us while we stand still. It means praying for our enemies. That’s a hard command.

God gives us the answers in His word.

God gives us the answers in His word. One of the hardest things to do can be to love our enemies. I have experienced people intentionally try to harm me, and one of the hardest things to do is to say, “Father, forgive them because they don’t realize what they are doing. This is not even them—it’s evil working through them.”

Our key is to love one another, including those who society deems less lovely or unlovable. But Jesus died for the thief on the cross as much as He died for me or you.

Jesus didn’t go out and preach a sermon to the woman at the well (John 4:1-42). He didn’t degrade her, He didn’t shame her, He wasn’t violent toward her. He lovingly spoke the truth to her. His motive was love, it was to touch her heart with His truth. It worked: she left that well and went off to tell more people about Jesus.

Sometimes when we are hurt, maybe it’s an opportunity for Jesus’s love to shine through to others and overcome evil with good.

This has been a hard time in our country. Early voting started at the same time that senseless violence was enacted on innocent people. Please, look for opportunities to love on others who may not have felt His love or the love of anyone else.

It can be something as simple as tipping a waitress who didn’t do a particularly good job. She may have had the hardest day of her life and is just trying to make it through the day.

Sometimes, showing love to others is as simple as not engaging in a debate but saying, “Help me understand your opinion better.” Sometimes it’s extending a hug or a pat on the shoulder. Or consider asking someone, “How can I pray for you today?” and then praying.

God gives us countless ways to overcome evil with good by extending His love to others—the same love that He lavishes on us. He wants to use us to lavish on others. When our heart is full with His love, love will overflow through our words and our actions.

So despite the current state of America right now, there are things we can do. And we can overcome evil by doing good.

Because of Him, #HopePrevails!

Hope-Filled Perspective: There is hope even in current violent climate in America

 

Hope Prevails Book and Hope Prevails Bible Study {hope for overcoming depression}

Depression resources: Hope Prevails and Hope Prevails Bible Study

Available through book retailers!

Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression and the companion Hope Prevails Bible Study help the reader understand how depression comes to be, recover their joy, reclaim their peace, and re-establish their true identity, while knowing their worth, remembering their secure destiny, and being confident that nothing separates them from God’s love.

Despite the tragic recent events in America, I maintain that we can still have hope. #hope #encouragement #faith

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