It was once written, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” I believe we live in such a time. In reality, every generation does, and some times are more trying than others, to be sure. But, as far as my own journey is concerned, I am living in the most trying days I have ever personally witnessed in our nation. Good is called evil, and evil called good, by an increasing number of my fellow-citizens. There are a variety of reasons for this, but it all results in a rather depressing situation where it appears the deck—at least in the natural realm—is stacked against those of us who follow Jesus Christ as the Bible teaches us to.
The national sin of Abortion still results in legally murdered babies by the tens of thousands, sexual immorality on a scale unprecedented since the times of Sodom and Gomorrah is considered to be a civil right, and those on the side of evil appear to have finally garnered enough power to willingly sway once free and reasonably fair elections to their whim on a national scale without anyone powerful enough to stand in their way. And let’s not forget our children, who are being propagandized daily in the taxpayer-funded schools to believe that all of these aforementioned evils are the way things ought to be, and that God is simply a historical figment of our imagination and nothing more, and that people who believe as the Bible teaches us to are backwards, homophobic, xenophobic, racist insurrectionists who must be censored, silenced, cancelled or otherwise suppressed for the public good.
Our nation, it is fair to say, is in trouble.
It is easy, in times such as this, to feel depressed and angry and a host of other negative emotions. But we are experiencing nothing different than countless generations before us who have lived in societies that pursue hedonistic pleasure over a right relationship with God. Certainly, the technology is more advanced to aid them in their head-long pursuit of perdition, but little else has changed in the grand scheme of things. Sinners still sin, and the righteous are still persecuted when we refuse to abandon the path of Truth and Righteousness. Jesus promised us no less, but He also promised us victory in the end when He told us, “In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
So, how do we live in this present age? How do we live when it seems even a shocking number of our church leaders are being lured down the primrose path of complicity with these present evils?
A thought that occurred to me recently as I pondered these questions was this: we are here to serve others. Like Jesus before us—our Lord, Master, and example elder brother—Who came to this Earth not to be served, but to serve. We are here to serve others.
It’s easy to forget that in the middle of the turmoil, when everything and everyone you hold dear seems to be in jeopardy. But it’s true. And if we take our gifts, talents, and abilities, and seek to serve others with them in a way that will advance the kingdom of God, then we can expect to be reasonably happy in this life, and receive the reward of God’s everlasting presence in the next—a reward like none other.
The events of the past four years have been an emotional and spiritual roller coaster for me, arising both from personal events in my own life and the national events that have occurred in our society. My ship has been tossed on the waves of the times. And I have found myself in a place of questioning how to move forward when even many spiritual leaders in the Church seem to be leading us astray.
As the dust began to settle from recent national events and the storms in my personal life began to subside somewhat, I finally had the emotional and spiritual energy to lean into the question of “How should I then live?” The words of the Serenity Prayer came to my mind:
God, give me grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right, if I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.
Stepping back and looking at the world’s situation and my own personal life as they exist today, not much has changed from four years ago. The heat may have been turned up a few notches on sin and hatred, and we’re facing challenges like we’ve never faced before in our personal and national lives, but the train has been headed in this direction for a lot longer than four years. Yet God is still God. He still has a plan, and His plan hasn’t changed in the midst of our current situation. The truth contained in 2 Chronicles 7:14 is still true: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
Christ Jesus gave us some additional instructions to go along with 2 Chronicles 7:14. He told us in Mark 16:15 to, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”
So, what does this look like? If each of us will take the gifts, talents, and abilities that God has blessed us with, and get up each day and use them to demonstrate God’s love to others and find some way to point people to the good news about Jesus Christ in the process, then we win. God’s kingdom advances. The world becomes a better place because we are here.
Will there be trials and tribulations and challenges along the way? Yes. Will we be called on to do difficult things at times? Yes. Will God be with us? Yes. Is God greater than the present evil? Yes.
So, be encouraged. All is not lost. The whole reason God came into the world and died on a cross for our sins is because we need a Savior. And our Savior is not a president, isn’t a group of politicians, or our job, or our bank account, or some other thing, person, or situation we are tempted to put our trust in when the waters are troubled. Our Savior is and always has been Jesus, God incarnate.
So, I leave you with some words our Savior spoke, and encourage you that these words are still just as true today as the day He spoke them. “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid.” – John 14:27.