I did not live through the Great Depression of the 1930’s but the stories I read of massive unemployment, of poverty, of hunger are frightening! What hopelessness filled the land at that time. My parents were children during the Second World War and spoke of the fear that they felt and sensed in their parents. America in 2016 faces another time of crisis, but our uneasiness is less defined than in those eras. We seem to have lost hope for the future. “Me” and “mine” are tearing us apart from the inside out as we fracture along racial and economic divides. Despair is like a heavy fog over our nation. Even the young, those who are most hopeful for the future have become cynical, skeptical about hoping for a better tomorrow.
Grim pictures of savage warfare in Syria and Iraq make any hope for peace unimaginable. Corruption, while not a new thing, is so much a part of life, we make allowance for it! There is a growing group of Americans who cannot even hope for a job that will pay enough to reach a place of sufficiency. For them, government subsidies are a way of life, generation after generation. “Church” is to many a word describing a place of tradition and ideas without any connection to ‘real life.’ A recent poll showed that only about a quarter of Americans say that their church plays a key role in their life.
The cynical chant of old Solomon is often heard in various forms these days: “Meaningless. Meaningless. Everything is meaningless!” (Ecclesiastes) Yet, hope remains! Christ Jesus invites us to come under the reign of God, to live in the Kingdom of Heaven. He teaches us about loving, about working against darkness, giving us a reason to exist that goes beyond scrambling for things and finding some momentary happiness. When we are people of the Spirit, knowing and doing the will of God, we find purpose that carries us in these times of despair. We discard apathy (“whatever!”) empowered by the Holy Spirit to do what others no longer even dare to imagine!
Christian, let’s not amuse ourselves to death. So many are chasing momentary pleasures to mask the pain of hopelessness. God is the strength of our life. We can be realistic about the present darkness. We can face the the challenges with honest assessment and yet not despair. Habakkuk preached to the people of God in a time of great sorrow, with a grim future; yet he was hopeful. He sang, “Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vine; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation. The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He will make me as surefooted as a deer and bring me safely over the mountains.” (Habakkuk 3:17-19, NLT)
Then, too, let’s not play the part of fools who refuse to see that there is peril, who ignore the real problem. No matter how loudly you shout, “Praise the Lord!” it means nothing unless there is an active faith at work in you that rests solidly on the foundation of Christ- who was born, lived, died on the Cross, and rose again to assure of life beyond this life. Hiding from daily life by burying ourselves in religious activities is no solution. What good is a ‘revival’ that produces no life, no transformation? God’s people are called to roll up their sleeves and go to work. They follow the Spirit’s lead into the battle, often bloodied, but not beaten.
Has the drumbeat of despair become the cadence to which you’re marching?
Stop. Look up. Listen. Offer sincere worship. Find hope!
Here’s the word from the Word. They were written by ‘The Preacher,’ Solomon, in Ecclesiastes. Near the end of a life full of glorious achievement, grand wealth, and pleasure in every way; he lost hope, becoming a terrible cynic. Then, he remembered God.
“Talk is cheap, like daydreams and other useless activities. Fear God instead.” (Ecclesiastes 5:7, NLT)
“Don’t let the excitement of youth cause you to forget your Creator. Honor him in your youth before you grow old and say, “Life is not pleasant anymore.” (Ecclesiastes 12:1, NLT)
“That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty. God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14, NLT)
In Christ Alone
In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light my strength my song
This Cornerstone this solid Ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love what depths of peace
When fears are stilled when strivings cease
My Comforter my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand
In Christ alone who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save
Till on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live
There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ
No guilt in life no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life’s first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand
CCLI Song # 3350395
Keith Getty | Stuart Townend
© 2001 Thankyou Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)
CCLI License # 810055