**Brutal religious persecution
**Hunger and poverty
**Social/political corruption,unrest and upheaval
**Racial and radical religious outbreaks of violence
**Security threats, nationally and global
**Severe societal moral decay
**Unrelenting natural disasters
**Outbreak of out-of-control diseases
I look all around me, all around the globe, and trouble like I’ve never seen in my lifetime is everywhere. Requests for help and assistance and prayer are coming from every direction. What is one to do? It’s so overwhelming that one can suffer a type of paralysis.
Now, a word to those who are passionate about these issues and the causes that spring from them: don’t be too hasty to judge those who do not seem as passionate as you about these things, those who do not spring into action at the drop of a hat. They are not, as some would suppose, selfish and lazy Westernized Christians who have been affected by affluence and prosperity. While this might be true in some cases, it is also true that others very much want to do something. It’s just that they may be… how can I put it… suffering from “information overload.” It’s hard to know what to invest in because all of these needs are, at present, very much valid and necessary and desperate. “Well, for Pete’s sake, do SOMETHING; do ANYTHING!” I’m sorry, I don’t mean to offend but, that’s just stupid. Doing nothing in the face of such great need is bad, but “just doing anything” is just as bad. On my part I want to make a wise and careful decision as to how I invest the resources (time, energy, finances, and prayer) that have been entrusted to me by God. It’s not a lazy man’s excuse; it’s my conviction to be a good steward before my God. Bottom line, I want to be led by God’s Spirit even (and maybe especially) in these things.
Besides all of this, I look into my world… my own little world… and there is trouble here as well, both internal and external, the likes of which can rock my sensibilities loose and take me out. Frankly, it’s hard to think much about world (macro) issues that are not right in front of me, when I’m staring in the face of problems in my world (micro). Yes, in comparison my world is very, very small; I acknowledge that. But it’s still MY world, and I’m living in it day-to-day.
“But are we not, as believers in Christ, to be moved by the plight of this world?” Absolutely! We ought to be moved with compassion which leads to action (for if it is true compassion one will act accordingly). But I think we may be missing something in all of this, something that a little perspective may help correct. I have observed that there has been a great outcry against all these evils, a call for action to address the issues and problems at hand. But the cry seems rooted in an underlying sentiment that could be expressed this way: “These things should not be; how can any of this be happening?” It’s as if we are SURPRISED by it all. Excuse me, but, if I’m not mistaken, we were given fair warning, several times and in different ways, through none other that Holy Writ. We are in a world affected by man’s fall into sin, and all its devastating results, from the original sin and fall up to present day. And we are in a world at war, that is under assault, under siege; or better put, that has been usurped by an Enemy bent on the destruction of the objects of Creator’s love. All in all, this world is full of trouble.
Consider the following:
**Ephesians 6 the apostle Paul speaks of the believer donning himself with battle gear, as if preparing for combat; sounds like war to me. He also writes in 2 Timothy 3 that “all who desire to live godly lives will suffer persecution”; not might, will. And the apostle Peter deals with this quite extensively in 1 Peter 4ff, saying “do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you.”
**In His earthly ministry Jesus suffered much persecution, and ultimately the cross, because of His life and message, and warned His followers that they should expect as much as His followers (Matthew 10:23; John 15:20).
**Here’s an interesting thought, concerning the usurper of this world: in the wilderness temptation the devil said to Jesus, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” (Luke 4:6-7) I find it very interesting that Jesus resisted the temptation on the basis that God alone is to receive worship, but He never actually contested the devil’s claim on the kingdoms of this world. I believe it was because Jesus acknowledged the claim as (technically) correct. Man was given dominion in the beginning, and abdicated that ruler-ship when he submitted to the usurper’s deceit, thus giving the devil “squatters rights” to the kingdoms of this world (which the followers of Christ are reclaiming… another blog for another time).
**Jesus spoke of divers kinds troubles and distress to come (see Matthew 24); once, almost as an aside, He assumes poverty would be an issue always being dealt with (Mark 14:7), and toward the end of His earthly ministry He point-blank told His disciples “in this world you WILL have trouble” (John 16:33a).
And these are just the references off the top of my memory.
Now I’m not suggesting that we adopt a care-less, lethargic attitude about what’s happening in our world, in God’s world. But nor should we be taken by surprise, and respond in a way that may not necessarily be godly, as far as our attitudes and frame of mind. We are not called to rally around a cause, but to submit to a King and His Kingdom. Nor should we cower in fear and isolate ourselves until the storms blow over.
As I said at the outset, all these things can be overwhelming. Indeed, all of these things could take us out, body, mind, heart and soul… were it not for one single, simple truth:
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I HAVE OVERCOME THE WORLD.” (John 16:33)
In order to have a settled, honorable response to any of these things, I must remember Whose I am, and Who’s ultimately in control; or, as it has been so aptly put, “There is a God, and I am not He.” But, there IS a God, a Savior, Who has indeed overcome the world. And in all the chaos and fear I can have peace, even as I respond to the horrors of the day, in my world and the world at large. This is the response of faith, of trust, of love.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In ALL your ways acknowledge HIM, and He (God) will direct your paths.“
Lord, with all that I am, in all of my apparent weakness, and with all of the imparted strengths that You give, I will hold on to, and trust wholly in YOU.