Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
As defined by Mirriam Webster online, “prudence” is: 1: the ability to govern and discipline oneself by the use of reason, 2: sagacity or shrewdness in the management of affairs, 3: skill and good judgment in the use of resources, and/or 4: caution or circumspection as to danger or risk.
Synonyms for prudence include: alert, vigilant, shrewd, judicious, wise, discrete, street smart, far-sighted, clear-headed, disciplined, logical (and so on).
A Scripture passage (of many) dealing with both practical and spiritual prudence that struck me recently as the way out of and away from the powerful pull of high emotion that, on the current geo-political scene, seems to be getting more and more intense, all-consuming–and blinding–is the following, from Proverbs, chapter 14, verses 15-18, NIV (emphasis mine):
The simple believe anything,
but the prudent give thought to their steps.
16 The wise fear the Lord and shun evil,
but a fool is hotheaded and yet feels secure.
17 A quick-tempered person does foolish things,
and the one who devises evil schemes is hated.
18 The simple inherit folly,
but the prudent are crowned with knowledge.
There is hope in those verses, and innumerable others, that, as all-consuming as political rage seems to be just now, by employing prudence there is wisdom and knowledge of how to discern not only a way out of what evil brews both abroad and within but also a way forward.
It’s not easy, though.
It requires attention, discernment investigation, and the ability to know when to act, if at all, and how, which is hard to do when rage can so easily overpower prudence, as it is wont to do.
“Ragenado”–is a derivative of “tornado” (that “violently destructive windstorm…characterized by a long, funnel-shaped cloud extending toward the ground”), only in a ragenado, it is high emotion and severe anger that characterizes the violence and destruction.
I would add one other weather comparison to what seems to be happening in the ragenados brewing and “touching down” today. There is a phenomenon called a “supercell” where a large swath of the atmosphere is affected by rare and highly destructive combinations of thunderstorms, rain, hail, and tornadoes.
A supercell can last several hours and travel across a wide area, sometimes hundreds of miles. This is the kind of weather drama that destroys whole neighborhoods, even towns, in minutes. Fortunately, it is rare.
People are advised to exercise prudence by protecting themselves in storm shelters or in emergency accommodations away from the affected area until it passes. And it will, at length, pass (even as rage and its attendant lawlessness and chaos burns itself out at length).
The Power of Prudence
As I think about how easy it is to be swept up in the ragenado of the current geo-political scene that seems to be growing into an international supercell of evil as it sweeps up more and more minds and hearts in a swirling tempest of irrationality, fear, and hatred, I try to keep prudence in mind not only as a way of life but also a way of mental, emotional, and spiritual survival.
There are very practical measures I remind myself of to avoid being swept up in the ragenado:
- As my late father always advised: “get your news from more than one source;”
- Discern between real news (the classic “who, what, when, where, why, and how” of true journalism) and “fake news” (sophistry, propaganda, polemics, and verbal “gaslighting“);
- Consider cautiously when to speak or act and when to refrain from speaking or acting, when to remain with–and when to leave–a given scene, person, or situation (aka, choose your battles with guidance and discretion);
- Study closely how Jesus dealt with the evils of His time of earthly ministry, e.g., when and why He confronted the money changers in the temple at their tables, and when He called out the verbal con artists as the “snakes” and “white-washed tombs” of His day;
- Study perhaps even more carefully when Jesus remained silent or, having said His piece, left the scene or allowed the one to whom He spoke to leave, e.g., His few words during His “trial,” when he left the presence of the rich young ruler to whom He had given simple instructions, and of course, His last words to Judas as a means of speaking the prophecy concerning that traitor. There are also several recorded incidents of when Jesus simply left the midst of an angry mob who wanted to kill Him then and there. He knew that His time to allow them full vent of their hatred of Him was not just then.
The Portents of Prophecy
Spiritually, in addition to Jesus’ example, I keep in mind that prophecy is always in operation behind the scenes and in that there is a time and a season for all things–even ragenados, if you will. This idea is summed up here:
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
2A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
3A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, KJV).
Prophecy points to beginnings and ends, the calms before the storms (as well as the storms before the calms), and to different seasons and eras. And here on earth, none lasts forever.
Prophecy also points to an eternal reality of peace beyond the temporal machinations of dominance and control that are ginned up by mere mortals engaged in an ever-expanding supercell of evil in their seemingly all-consuming quest for power, that, in its wake, leaves the destruction of nations, towns, homes, relationships, minds, and hearts.
In the interim, however, back here on terra firma, it can get very dark. The geo-political scene requires the best we’ve got of discipline, vigilance, shrewdness, wisdom, discretion, street smarts, clear-headedness (and so on).
But–good news–there is another prophecy that applies, even in the midst of what ragenado swirls and growls in the world or in your world, today:
When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near (Luke 21:28, NIV), a prophecy that is very encouraging, emboldening–and prudent–to look into just now..
I pray you will.
And be of good cheer–because we can, believe it or not. Jesus said so. See here:
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world (John 16:33, KJV).