discouraging timesRiots, terrorist attacks, despicable politicians, moral collapse, unbridled lawlessness, injustice, economic uncertainty: all are signs that we live in ominous times. (“Ominous times” is merely a euphemism for God’s judgement). Our national sins are immense and like Abel’s blood, they cry out for justice.

During these increasingly turbulent times, we need to be agents of hope, not despair. While we as Christians watch what is happening with sadness, frustration and concern, it really does not define us, or our present or future state. As responsible citizens, we should discuss what is happening with believers and non-believers remembering to remind –or offer—as the case may be the certain biblical hope offered through a relationship with Jesus Christ.

My purpose in writing is to encourage us with a few thoughts about our mindset during these very dark times that will provide personal peace and position us to be ministers of hope.

God is sovereign (Gen. 1:1, Ps. 115:3, Prov. 16:9). (You know, I will even add an exclamation point to that -!-) God is in control of every detail of what is happening in our nation and the world (2 Chon. 20:6, Isa. 40:23). By itself, this is enough to bring tremendous peace to distressed souls. Because God is The Creator, he is sovereign over all of his creation. History is the account of God’s steady rule over national and world affairs. Man acts according to his sinful ways, but the glory of God is that he works in and through man’s most sinful actions to accomplish his redemptive plan. While current events may indicate a clear lack of control on man’s part, God is firmly in control of everything that is happening today, tomorrow, and the next day.

God is working all things out for his glory which is also the good of his people (Rom. 8:28-29). The purpose of God’s control is to accomplish the goal of glorying himself through the redemption of his church which he accomplishes within the affairs of men in history. Romans 8:28 says, “All things” not just the good things are part of his plan for our good.

Joseph is a textbook example of this truth. He was the victim of incredible evil at the hands of his bothers and Potipher’s wife. But he knew that God was up to good even in his misery. This perspective allowed him to forgive and say to his brothers that what they meant for evil God used for good (Gen. 50:20).  Through the evil he endured, God used Joseph to save the world from famine, and in so doing, sustained the family line through which Jesus Christ would eventually be born.

God has promised that he will never leave nor forsake his children (Deut. 31:6, Heb. 13:5). We are covered by the blood of his dear son, Jesus (Ex. 12:13, Rev. 1:5). We are hidden in Christ (Col. 3:3). He cannot deny his own for to deny us would be to deny his son whom he loves and who is at this very moment sitting at his right hand in heaven interceding for us (2 Tim. 2:13).

Evil will prosper for a season, but it will ultimately come to an end—forever (Ps. 37:7; 73:1-28). I struggle mightily with the fact that politicians fortify their checkbooks (and hang on to power like a petulant 3 year old holds on to his lollipop) while they constantly get away with incredible lawlessness that the rest of us would be quickly jailed for. But their day will come. Evil will not continue forever.

We are Sojourners (1 Pet. 1:17, Heb. 11:13-16). That we have lived in arguably the most prosperous, free nation in the history of the world is such a remarkable blessing that we can hardly fully appreciate it. Yet, what we have enjoyed and come to depend on pales in comparison to what God promises is ahead for those who love him. In the meantime, like our father Abraham, we are to consider ourselves as sojourners. We are just passing through. This is not our home. (This does not mean that we don’t care about what is happening, nor does it mean we should shrink back from trying to offer biblical solutions. But the course of events in this life are not to be our source of hope). God is preparing a much better place for us (John 14:2-3, Heb. 11:15-16, Rev. 21:1-4). We need to meditate on that truth much, much more.

We would do well to talk about these truths with our children.

God is just and he will judge the sins of nations. And while we will likely have to suffer through some of that judgement, we must do so in light of the truths I presented above. Through Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit, God has actually made us to be sources of his hope to the countless people, including our neighbors, friends and acquaintances. There are people who do not know God and have no hope other than the empty promises of slime ball politicians and their own limited ability to care for themselves (Acts 1:8, 1 Pet. 2:9).

In the midst of the sacking of Jerusalem, the prophet Jeremiah writes in Lamentations 3:22-26, The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore I will hope in him. The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

May Jeremiah’s prayer and hope be our own in these discouraging times.

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