*Posted by Joe Wooddell
The U.S. in particular and the world in general are facing severe problems. The U.S. economy is in a slump, and several European nations are struggling on the verge of bankruptcy. Some nations are in the midst of civil war, some of which include ruthless torture and genocide. People are starving all over the world, and billions are well below every measurable indicator of poverty. Governments in some nations are mere puppets of drug cartels, other governments are tyrannical. Some governments mandate that pregnant women murder their unborn children for various reasons, not least because children themselves are seen as problems to be eliminated.
Don’t worry, good news is coming, but the list goes on. Several Middle Eastern nations have experienced various versions of an “Arab Spring,” only to find that virtuous, competent, courageous leadership has not emerged, and doesn’t seem likely to emerge. Militant, religious, Muslim extremists often fill the vacuum. Some governments imprison, mutilate, torture, or kill people within their borders simply for worshiping Jesus or sharing God’s Word. In some nations human trafficking and slavery – including sexual slavery – are not at all uncommon. Clean water, proper hygiene, medicine, sanitation, nominally healthy food, and adequate shelter are not the norm in most of the world. Religious freedom, freedom of speech and of the press, and simple recognition of rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are the exception, not the rule.
More important, more relentless, and ultimately much more damaging than any of the above is the problem of human sinfulness. Many die daily on the path leading to hell (the broad way that leads to destruction), while few enter eternity at peace with God (on the narrow path that leads to life) (see Mt. 7:13-14). People the world over are “addicted” to pornography. Depression and suicide are rampant, many who do have access to enough food are compulsive gluttons, mind altering substances are consumed, injected, inhaled, etc. by fathers, mothers, teenagers, and children, and are destroying lives daily. Satan and his demonic host are alive and well, but modern scientism and secular humanism tell us there is no God, and no such thing as the supernatural. As a result, people consistently treat the symptoms of the above problems rather than the root cause: human sinfulness as beset by worldly and demonic influence.
Believers, however, have much for which to be thankful. Believers the world over recognize that this world as it currently is, is not our final destination. We have peace with God through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We rejoice with one another on a regular basis through the power of the Holy Spirit, and while we are not perfect, we are being perfected, sanctified, made holy. Our character and habits are changing, we are learning to love ourselves rightly yet die to ourselves daily (there is no contradiction here). Those who have the blessing of good teaching, not only with respect to the Bible but also theology, philosophy, economics, politics, history, literature, music, and the arts often have an added blessing in this life. Many have learned that they can change things for the better here and now. We are grateful for whatever time we have with family and friends, we are grateful for prosperity when it comes, and for the grace to endure trying times. Most of all we are grateful that we are on friendly terms with our heavenly Father, because of the work of Christ.
As a premillennialist, I believe things will worsen until Jesus returns, but that doesn’t mean I give up hoping and praying for pockets of spiritual revival, or for economic and political renewal. Some governments and economies are better than others, and there are clear, compelling arguments (and historical evidences) as to why. So I continue hoping, praying, learning, and working. In fact, there is no divide between secular and sacred, spiritual and material. Work can be worship, investment can be ministry, governing can be an act of service to God and man, and all of our vocations can and should be seen as holy callings. Despite current challenges, the U.S. is still the most blessed place on the planet to live, but believers in every nation can and should rejoice. I’ve never suffered in the ways some believers have in other nations, but I’ve read God’s Word, and I’ve heard testimony by some in this generation who have suffered greatly, so I know it’s possible to rejoice. The point I’m making is simply this: bad news abounds, but be that as it may, believers always have cause to rejoice and be grateful.