It’s hard to be a hopeful upbeat Christian in today’s America.
The steady stream of news and events that reveal the ongoing moral decay of our culture is both depressing and maddening. The church in America is receding in number, status, and influence. Looking Christian seems to be far more popular than actually being Christian today. The apathy that had characterized the church in America has given way to antipathy. Churchgoers are viewed with distrust and are called pejoratively “right-wing extremists” while Christians themselves have become distrustful of each other accusing one another of not being evangelical (or even progressive) enough. So both from without and within, today’s American Christianity is in trouble.
The religious rights and freedoms our Founding Fathers tried so hard to ensure throughout posterity have come under attack by our own government leaders. Unbelievably, many of those government leaders are getting a helping hand from religious leaders (Russell Moore, Pope Francis, United Methodist bishops, etc.). The church in America may still very well be in decline but it is also under attack.
Why was it that during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic going to church was deemed a non-essential activity forbidden by power-hungry mayors and governors but going to Walmart or even the local liquor store was quite acceptable? And why did so many religious leaders jump on that bandwagon?
It’s not difficult to understand that the smaller the remnant becomes the more those who make up that remnant begin wondering where God is. Most of that apprehension is not rooted in what difficulties lie ahead for the remnant. Most of it emanates from a deep concern about our children and grandchildren. What kind of church will they inherit from their parents? To what degree will the cancers of progressivism and socialism have eaten up their religious liberties? Will our kids fight back when told it is in the best interests of their neighbors to abandon church when they saw so many of their parents dutifully consent to ridiculous and unconstitutional orders to stay away from church during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Where was God during COVID-19? Where is God as lying through your teeth has suddenly become acceptable in almost every walk of American life? Why won’t God help us stop abortion? Why is He allowing progressives to destroy the Constitution that so many godly people worked prayerfully and tirelessly to both create and defend? Why is He allowing wicked people to riot in most major cities in America with impunity? Why does He seemingly remain silent as criminals become more and more brazen with their violence and lawbreaking?
Where are you, God?
God is where He always has been, is right now, and always will be: reigning as the King of the universe.
Long ago the prophet Habakkuk was asking the same questions that God’s forlorn faithful are asking today.
Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise. So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted (Habakkuk 1:3-4).
Habakkuk speaks for more than himself, doesn’t he? He voices the pain of everyone across millennia of time who struggle with watching sin prosper while righteousness is demeaned and assaulted. Why doesn’t God do something? I think about Noah and the flood. I think about the tower of Babel and the confusion God sent. I remember Sodom and Gomorrah. The plagues against Egypt, the lone angel who slew 186,000 Assyrians (Isaiah 37:36), and the list goes on from the Bible concerning how God intervened in worldly affairs with a strong and mighty hand.
I want to say, “Come on God! So many people are thumbing their noses at you and proverbially spitting in your eye. They’re ridiculing Jesus, blaspheming your holy name, legitimizing sin, and worst of all they are demanding that I get on board with them. Please do something!” He never says a word but somehow every time the desperation and angst overwhelm me I see a mental image of…the cross.
And I sense God communing with my mind and heart saying, “I did do something. As a matter of fact, I did everything to ensure that no matter how bad it gets you will never succumb to sin. My Son satisfied the wages of sin and then conquered death and Satan for you. He even gave you the promise that “everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die…” (John 11:26).
God has promised that we can be with Him where He is (Revelation 22:3). He has promised ultimate justice (separating the sheep and goat nations and the Great White Throne judgment (Matthew 25:32 and Revelation 20:11-15). The list of God’s promises to the faithful is nearly endless.
Maybe we should read God’s response to Habakkuk in Habakkuk 2:2-20. It affected the bitter prophet so profoundly that the difficult and painful things in life which threatened to create an insurmountable barrier between him and God had actually become prompts to celebrate God’s mercy and grace. Perhaps you’ve heard it. It goes like this:
Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the LORD, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places. (Habakkuk 3:17-19).
Quite the turnaround. The messed up world remains messed up. But the heart of the individual who believes in the God of the Bible turns when he or she remembers that nothing can ever alter or change either the goodness or faithfulness of God. Maybe the most hopeful promise in the Bible isn’t so much about what God will do for anyone. Rather, it’s a revelation about what He is. Maybe the most important thing written is “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:24). Hang in there, Christian…our God reigns and we win!