Life can seem confusing and unsettling, but was it meant to be that way? What can we do to find peace in a disorderly world?
When we were small, my brothers and I had great laughs spinning around on a toy called Sit ’n Spin. We would sit cross-legged on it and turn ourselves around in faster and faster circles.
The real fun began when we tried to stand up. We thought it was hilarious to watch each other dizzily stagger around, eventually crashing to the floor in a heap.
Watching another person stumble around in confusion seemed like great fun as a kid, but not so much as an adult.
A world of confusion
When looking at life today, we see a world staggering from one problem to the next.
Our world’s struggles include the environment, gender identity issues, migration, economic access, food and housing insecurity, public health and violence. These problems are not likely to be solved anytime soon.
God of peace
God did not create our world to be full of distressing problems with unclear solutions. Our loving Creator God designed an orderly world where people were meant to have a clear path toward building good and satisfying lives and live the way of peace.
God wants us to depend on His goodness and have a life of stability, peace and hope for the future—not a life full of anxiety and uncertainty about the next day or year or future generations.
Jeremiah recorded God’s message of encouragement to captives in Babylon, which tells us what He ultimately wants for all of us:
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).
God’s orderly creation
This was God’s intent when He created the world at the beginning. After the first six days of creation, God pronounced that His creation was very good (Genesis 1:31).
We see a natural order to what He made. The plants and animals are subject to humans, and humans were created a little lower than the angels. Above all, God has dominion over everything (Psalm 8).
God is characterized by order and stability, and we see that in His creation. He does not change. He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).
How reassuring it would be to go through life relying on God, who won’t change—no matter the day, year or generation.
God is not a god of confusion but of peace
In writing to the troubled congregation in the Greek city of Corinth, the apostle Paul was inspired to declare that God is not the source of confusion.
“For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints” (1 Corinthians 14:33).
With this in mind, Paul encouraged Christians to “let all things be done decently and in order” (verse 40). This instruction would promote the peace God intended in the congregation.
Peace and order are what God originally and ultimately intended for all of His creation.
What went wrong?
If God originally intended untroubled and secure lives for us, what went wrong? How did we arrive at a place where nearly 1 million people a year end their own lives? Where more than 100 million people have been displaced due to war, violence and political instability? Where over 80 percent of Internet users have run across social media misinformation? Where eco-anxiety is becoming a major mental health issue in children around the world?
The instability, disorder and confusion we see today came from somewhere else.
The apostle James was inspired to point out that “where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there” (James 3:16). The fault for where we are today does not lie with God or His plan. The fault lies in our moving away from God’s plan to our own ways.
When God gives us His wisdom, we should use it to evaluate everything in our life.Our society is the source of its own sad story. But God encourages us to write a different narrative, just as He urged the people of Israel. Before they entered the Promised Land, God encouraged the Israelites not to do whatever they thought was right in their own eyes (Deuteronomy 12:8). God warned of grim consequences if they chose to listen to themselves rather than to Him.
Doing what is right in our own opinion leads us to make decisions based on our self-interest rather than recognizing how they affect other people or fully considering what God wants us to do. King Solomon noticed that this leads to foolishness, to confusion and ultimately to death (Proverbs 12:15; 14:12).
But are all these problems just a matter of people making bad decisions? Could everyone suddenly start making good decisions tomorrow?
Who is the author of confusion?
The Bible reveals something more sinister at the root of our world’s confusion and instability. This root cause makes it difficult for anyone to make better decisions.
The self-interest and envy at the core of this confusing world are a reflection of the human heart. The Bible often uses the heart to symbolize our innermost intentions and the motives behind our decisions. Yet God reveals that the human heart is deceitful and wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). Actually, our hearts have been deceived.
Who is the source of that deception? Who is the ultimate author of confusion? Satan the devil, the adversary of humanity (Revelation 12:9).
During His ministry, Jesus Christ clearly explained that Satan is real and has an agenda to destabilize our world and our lives. He is the instigator of this world’s confusion and pain.
Scripture identifies Satan as the source of deception that leads to destructive behavior (John 8:44; James 3:15). Christ warned us to turn away from all such conduct for our own good. When we look around us, can we not see that there ought to be something better?
The path to peace
The good news is that God wants to put us on the path that leads to an abundant life.
The Bible is the only book that describes this path to a truly better life—a fulfilling, settled, beneficial life with the hope for something better beyond death. Throughout the Bible, we get a clear picture of the results of the choice to obey God or not. The difference between a settled and peaceful life and an unstable and confusing one is whether we follow God.
What do we see when we look at ourselves and the world around us?
Christ knew that we would make mistakes, but encouraged us to seek this better life.
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
By turning to God, we can come to understand His original plan for us and allow Him to move us toward His purpose for us. God will help us if we fully turn to Him.
From confusion to peace
How do we start to turn from a life of confusion to one of peace? Consider these three steps:
1. Seek God and His wisdom.
Because our adversary has deceived the whole world, we cannot rely on our own logic and understanding to resolve the problems and confusion in our lives. The Bible confirms that we shouldn’t lean on our own understanding, but we should instead seek God, and then He will direct our paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).
To do this, we must ask God to give us His wisdom, so that we can use it in our lives to make the appropriate changes. God promises that if we ask for His wisdom, He will give it to us generously (James 1:5).
The apostle James described the positive benefits of God’s wisdom and how we should deal with others around us (James 3:17-18). As we walk where God is leading, His wisdom will produce other good fruit in our lives, like repentance, Bible study, prayer, fasting, meditation and service—all of which help establish the progress we make.
2. Do not believe everything is right and good.
When God gives us His wisdom, we should use it to evaluate everything in our life. Since our heart is deceitful, it will want to justify parts of our life as if they’re “okay” or “good enough,” when they’re actually evil. Therefore, we should look into every dark corner and everything hiding in plain sight.
The Bible predicted that our world would be confusing and unsettling because of so many opposing ideas, opinions and solutions to everything. This would make it very difficult to distinguish truth from lies and good from evil.
Even as the world lurches unsteadily from one problem to the next, God wants us to experience a sanctuary of stability and calm in our lives.Even worse, some intentionally present evil as though it is good and try to make good seem evil (Isaiah 5:20). Without God’s wisdom, it would be impossible for us to recognize all of these wrong influences and ideas.
Jesus Christ rebuked the religious leaders of His day for not examining their lives closely. Many of their thoughts and actions were contrary to God’s standards (Matthew 23:23-26). They thought what they were doing was good, but Christ pointed out where they went wrong.
If we are teachable and honest with ourselves, God will show us the changes we need to make.
3. Be watchful and evaluate every new thing.
While we’re using God’s wisdom to work on changing what needs to be changed, we still need to be on guard against new challenges. As time marches on, new ideas, trends and so-called solutions will arise. Different people will enter our lives. New situations will come up at work, at school and in our communities.
We will need to be ready to judge whether what they promote goes against what God says is right and good. We will need to be vigilant and alert.
Our adversary will be looking to derail us by using thoughts, people and situations to influence us. He is always looking for a foothold in our life. The Bible describes him as constantly on the prowl, looking for those whose lives he can disrupt and confuse. There is nothing that Satan has not tried to corrupt.
Yet we don’t need to be anxious or fearful about the future or Satan’s attacks. God assures us that if we obey Him, we will be able to resist the devil and he will flee from us (James 4:7).
Obeying God means that we carefully observe His commandments, because doing so leads to a close relationship with Him and guides us toward a peaceful and wholesome life, free from confusion and disorder.
The Bible assures us of the future results: “Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble” (Psalm 119:165).
A hopeful future
Even as the world lurches unsteadily from one problem to the next, God wants us to experience a sanctuary of stability and calm in our lives.
From the beginning, He created an orderly plan that will provide for our good if we turn to Him. He is ready to give us peace, quietness and assurance forever (Isaiah 32:17).