It is undeniable that we are living in treacherous times. Many conclude that this is it – the end is near! The wars, earthquakes, floods, pandemics and tragedies dominating the news cycles certainly support that idea. People are becoming frightened, depressed and losing hope. But not all. Living in this world is different than living for it, and there are those who can see light at the end of the tunnel, anticipating the return of the rightful king. “Lift up your heads, for your redemption draws near.” For the believer the current era is a blip on the radar, a camping trip – not a destination. Yet there are the birth pangs first. Jesus said men’s hearts would fail with fear at the close of the age. He Himself agonized over the prospect of His own suffering and death even knowing that He would conquer it. So it is no surprise that we see depression and despair on the rise in response to the unfolding drama on the world stage.
People are anxiously watching things unravel, unsure of what turn life for will take for them. A generation that has experienced epic prosperity and comfort faces turmoil and upheaval. Dreams are evaporating, replaced with apprehension and cynicism. It is becoming obvious that our cultural sophistication and technological advances have not proven to be the solution to mankind’s recurring failures as we had anticipated. The notion that a shift in political world view will improve the situation is a pipe dream. Facing the possibility of yet a third world war in just over one hundred years, it is safe to conclude that humanity is not evolving to a higher plane. Unless there is something beyond our brief and uncertain tenure on this disintegrating planet, the future looks bleak – us against the universe! Should we wring our hands and stock up on Xanax?
What better time than this to pause and take stock of the soundness of our personal truth, the foundation that we cling to from the very core of our being. Troubled times have a way of making our ideals – and our idols – clear. Facing economic upheaval, shifting societal norms, possible war and rampant disease we are like those who feel the tremors of an impending earthquake. The very ground that has always provided stability betrays us. It is a terrorizing prospect, the helplessness of of realizing that our security is an illusion. We are now collectively at the mercy of something even more terrifying – world rulers with lust for power or ideology who will stop at nothing. We cannot even trust our own political leaders. Fear is warranted!
What does your truth tell you about that fear? Are you to lash out or cower? Repress and ignore reality? Absorb it emotionally and endanger your sanity? From what source do you derive strength and perspective? Social media is a popular resource, and the verdict is not in, but response generally tends towards negativity. Pessimism or outrage seem to be the most common reactions. This does not settle the soul and fit one for constructive behavior towards one’s neighbor, but promotes suspicion and condescension. Isolation is an option that benefits neither the person nor his family and friends, since one tends to develop a skewered perspective and personality. There is always denial or distraction. Or there is that other alternative, the one that can be truly frightening – turning to and trusting God. Like Peter we are faced with the option of getting out of the boat in the middle of a turbulent storm to take a walk on the water. Hmmm!
For the record, people over the years have been faced with terrifying tragedy repeatedly. For those who turned to the ultimate source of power and peace, God Himself, there has been refuge and what is described as safety. This is in the face of marauding armies, betrayal of close friends, political intrigue, natural disaster and the discovery of profound personal corruption. When one experiences God’s ruling goodness and His personal protection, perspective shifts. He is like one who finds that treasure in the field and pays everything to get it. Jesus Himself assured His followers that in this world there would be tribulation, a nice Bible word for what we are seeing. Then He unexpectedly told them to be of good cheer, take heart, keep calm because He had overcome the world. This is right before He is crucified and apparently defeated. Do we dare trust Him? We will soon be celebrating the reason we can say yes to that question- an empty tomb.
It is easy to embrace this perspective in our mind, but it takes effort for it to penetrate the soul. We must constantly remind ourselves to “look up” as things spiral out of control, whether personally or collectively. Kingdom peace is not acquired by drifting but by decision. We have abundant records about those who were determined to be shaped by the eternal and not the temporal, those who swam upstream. Secular history largely ignores or demeans such people, “those of whom the world is not worthy”, but God holds them close to His heart. Now is a great time to remember their stories and enter their ranks. One finds they were ordinary people facing extraordinary difficulty with a determination to enshrine God in their souls. No act of man or nature could separate them from a trust birthed in surrender. He was no austere distant deity. If His love is your foundation let your heart be at peace.
“For all those words which were written long ago are meant to teach us today; that when we read in the scriptures of the endurance of men and of all the help that God gave them in those days, we may be encouraged to go on hoping in our own time. .. God .. inspires men to endure, and gives them a Father’s care… “ Romans 15:3-5