When God Makes 2 + 2 = 5

aabadmathSometimes I find myself involved in a situation about which I simply cannot find peace. Something will be genuinely wrong: someone will be doing myself or someone I care about harm, or someone with power will in some egregious way be abusing that power, or … something will be happening that no one would be okay with. And so I’ll be having a lot of emotional turmoil about that situation or dynamic.

About most stuff I can reason or feel my way into emotional clarity—with most conditions or situations I can make a pretty solid peace by just sort of … relaxing around it. I usually just open myself to God’s perspective on the troubling situation at hand, and then I sort of … know how to feel or think about it

But sometimes that just doesn’t work. Sometimes I can’t move into a place where the thing I’m dealing with is okay. That’s when I know I’ve really got a real problem on my hands. I can look at it from the top, the bottom, from either side, from beneath it—and no matter how I look at it, it still looks bad.

And that’s when I ask God for his peace. Even though I know there’s no way to be with that situation and still have peace, I ask God to bring me his peace. In effect—well, not in effect, in reality—I’m asking for a miracle. I know there’s no way for me to feel okay with whatever’s going on; I know it can’t be okay. By the time I’m at the place where all I can do is pray for God’s peace, an idiot would be able to see that I’m involved in a problem that would have Buddha whining and ulcerating.

And whenever I ask for God’s peace, like that it’s there. Almost instantly my anxiety about the situation is replaced by that expanded, deep, indescribably … peaceful state God puts you in when he’s decided to grant you a little taste of what heaven must be like.

And he never fails to grant me that peace when I ask him for it. I don’t think he ever fails to bring that peace to anyone who asks for it.

So what I meant was that when you pray for God’s peace, even though you know you’re dealing with a situation that factually, really, quantifiably cannot be resolved—a situation where you know that what you’ve got is the equivalent of two plus two equaling four, and the four is the part that’s killing you—God, and only God, can turn that four into a five. Or a six. Or two million six hundred thousand and eight.

Just by asking him to do it, God can make more out of the situation you’re struggling with than you would have ever dreamed was possible before he performed that miracle.

I go to a church where, about half way through the service, everyone turns to those around them, shakes hands, and says, “Peace of the Lord.” In the course of my daily life, I never say anything to anyone that I mean more than that.

About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. Don't forget to sign up for his mucho-awesome newsletter.

  • nisperos

    Everything you didn’t know you wanted to know about dung beetles and so failed to ask:

    Dung Beetles, their Mating Habits, and their Effect on the Environment

    http://www.colostate.edu/Depts/Entomology/courses/en507/papers_2007/chaskey.pdf

    The C. P. Gillette Museum of Arthropod Biodiversity at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado is bug heaven — the collection exceeds 3 million insects:

    http://www.colostate.edu/Depts/Entomology/museum/index.htm

    http://www.colostate.edu/Depts/Entomology/

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Thank you! I appreciate your kind words. (And Nis: Thanks for bug links! I'll never sleep again–but thanks!)

  • Mrs. Stroop

    Amen! Refreshing truth written with joyful humor – thank you!

  • Elizabeth

    Thanks, John, for expounding on this thought. Good stuff…

    Nothing like the peace that passes all understanding coming along side you in times of trouble and in times when things are just peachy. :)

    We're plugging along… but keep praying. The ride is just beginning for us.

    Thanks.

    Elizabeth

  • nisperos

    Hey Elizabeth,

    Praying for you and hubby…

    If I could, I'd link you to an MP3, but I can't find one so the words will have to do:

    This is from Dion (Di Mucci's) album, "I Put Away My Idols". Scroll down and click on the link for the lyrics to "My Prayer for You" :
    http://www.geocities.com/SunsetStrip/Basement/948

    (Yup, Dion who once toured with Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens also had some gospel years and is still going strong at 68 and still releasing albums.)

    http://www.amazon.com/Put-Away-Idols-Kingdom-Stre… (two albums from the 1980's re-released on one CD re-released in 2003)

  • Elizabeth

    Thanks for the prayers, nisperos and for the lyrics… Good stuff.

    I think it's totally cool how the family of God can come together in times like this and rattle Heaven's gates on our knees, when we've never even met!

  • Shing

    Hi John, thank you so much for sharing your faith. It really helps me with my situation right now. May God Bless You.

    Amen.

    Shing

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Shing, thank you so much for this simple, inspiring message. I've taken it to my heart.

  • mark

    Whic.h means, of course, that GOD doesn't make sense.

    But, then again, She's GOD!

    • Matthew Tweedell

      Exactly.

      No need for us to be pessimistic about the fact that prayers being answered doesn't make much sense. You want to find God – divide by zero. Nothing wrong with that (unless you consider vague indeterminacy as a "problem", rather than a "miracle"). In fact, it occurs in nature all around us all the time! And the fact that you and I exist also doesn't make sense! No need to forsake the miracle in it all!

      I'm pretty impressed though, Mark. I didn't think anyone would catch that nearly so quickly!

  • Matthew Tweedell

    So, you think man, the definer of mathematical definitions—albeit not the cause of math’s ability to accurately describe things in our universe—cannot make 2+2=5? Watch this:

    Let x=2

    10 = 10 ->

    4 + 6 = 5*2 =>

    x^2+6 = 5*x =>

    x^2+6-10=5x-10 =>

    x^2 – 4 = 5x-5*2 =>

    (x+2)(x-2)= 5*(x-2) =>

    x + 2 = 5 =>

    2+2 = 5.

    [Note: although each step by itself follows according to normal mathematical technique, do NOT attempt such miracles on your algebra homework, kids---you'll likely find your teacher's faith only capable of moving mountains given the help of dynamite and bulldozers.]

  • mark

    Yeah……BUT

    the only way to eliminate (x-2) from both sides of the equation is to divide both sides by (x-2);

    since x=2, you are dividing by 0 and that, my friend, is a BIG no-no.

    Anytime you divide anything by 0, you can get any answer you want! it just doesn’t make sense.

    • Matthew Tweedell

      Shhhh….[in whisper tones] you're ruining the magic!

  • Jill H

    This post should be making more rounds, like on a monthly basis. The simplest messages of hope have the most profound ability to sink in. (Simple, as in short ‘n sweet BTW.)

    This one, along with Let’s not be afraid today from 7/1/12, are the simplest, sweetest, most comforting messages around. These should be on the best hits page. Seriously.

  • Allie

    Glad you referenced this in your last post, John, since I hadn’t read it before. The peace that passeth understanding. Most recently had to call on this one when a friend was murdered, something that just did not and does not make sense. And yes, it worked. It is a true miracle of God.

    • Elizabeth

      I hadn’t read this one either. Peace of the Lord be with you. And also with you.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Oh, gosh. I’m so sorry to hear of this tragedy, Allie.

    • Jill

      Oh Allie, that is devastating to hear. I am so sorry. I’m glad you are finding some comfort in this sadness.

  • Tami

    “‘Peace of the Lord.’ In the course of my daily life, I never say anything to anyone that I mean more than that.” Love this. My church practices this as well, and I find it makes me feel closer to my fellow parishioners.

    That being said, deciding that things don’t always have to be okay has brought me much peace. Always trying to be okay that is more of the issue than the problems themselves. I love the advice of Pema Chodron, and here is what she teaches about difficult times: Abandon hope — it’s a way of denying the present moment. Stop fighting the fact that you will die, stop seeing pain as punishment and pleasure as a reward. Learn to accept obstacles as friends. And accept that “nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.”


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