I’ve seen this country go through a lot of turmoil in my 59 years.
I was only a boy but I remember the chaos of the assassinations of both Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968 (I was actually living in Memphis then and vividly remember Dr. King’s death). Racial tensions were terrible.
I remember the unpopularity of the Vietnam War. Marches. Protests. Draft card burning parties. Network newscasts were bleak and hopeless.
I remember Watergate and the political upheaval that was relentless.
I was a teenager during the 70s and remember the fear of America running out of gasoline. Gas lines at service stations and rationing became the norm.
In the 80s it seemed like everybody was predicting the end of the world. If it wasn’t the Doomsday Clock ticking closer and closer to midnight then it was a plethora of religious authors predicting the Second Coming. Even the late great Rev. Billy Graham got in on it with his book Approaching Hoofbeats: The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1984). Everybody was on edge.
The 90s saw the Gulf War which ultimately culminated in September 11, 2001, which in turn led to America’s longest war: Afghanistan.
The Left’s ideological-driven politics over the last decade have incubated a level of animus and hatred unknown in America (there have always been haters but never has hatred been as socially acceptable as it has become of late).
All that, has been to preface this observation: I’ve never seen anything like 2020-2021.
America has been through a Revolutionary War, a Civil War, two World Wars, stock market crashes, a Great Depression, and everything I observed above. I still believe the last year of so takes the cake.
Universities are returning to segregation. Law enforcement has been under siege (2021 saw the most police officers shot and killed in US history). Consequently, lawlessness has reached a level heretofore never seen in this country before (riots, brazen assaults on city streets, smash and grab thefts, etc.). The majority of news media became blatantly partisan in the last year or so (we all knew it was years before, but riots were deemed ‘peaceful protests,’ abandoning church was called an act of love, and forced vaccinations were called for on CNN). And politicians at every level became drunk with the power of states of emergency they created and the subsequent executive and emergency orders.
Never have I seen so much evil across such a broad spectrum of life as I saw in 2020-2021.
Worry has settled in almost every American home and fear has become palpable.
I’ve been in the ministry for 35 years and I never have been one to try to frighten churchgoers with “the end is near” sermons. A believer’s faith walk is supposed to be the same regardless of when the return of Jesus Christ occurs. That seems to be the overall message of the Olivet Discourse that was prompted by the disciples' question “what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?” (Matthew 24:3).
Nevertheless, there is a great deal of information in the New Testament about how the world will be prior to that holy event. And for the first time in my life, I believe it is near. The pervasiveness of hate, rage, and darkness we have all witnessed in the last year or so have convinced me that we are on the cusp.
And if we are, it is a perfect time to be reminded of something written by the Apostle Peter.
…he [God] has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Peter 1:3-5).
Not a distant hope but a living hope. Not an empty promise that everything will work out but a promise of a perfect inheritance that has already been prepared and is kept in heaven for you. And as the darkness grows and evil creeps ever deeper into our daily lives we are told that God’s power is surrounding us and it is ready to be revealed in the last time!
Things are not going to get easier in the days, months, and maybe even years ahead. If Roe v. Wade is soon overturned or seriously weakened the pro-death multitudes aren’t going to quietly accept a Supreme Court decision. Criminals emboldened by “defund the police” politicians aren’t going to see the error of their ways and become Constitution-loving law-abiding citizens anytime soon. And the elites in Washington are salivating over how to best utilize the new Omicron COVID variant to maintain and even extend their power for the foreseeable future.
Despair will cause many to disengage from the great spiritual war going on overhead (Ephesians 6:12). Fear will cause many more into a full-fledged retreat and even surrender just so they can survive.
But the faithful will remember the promise of a living hope…an inheritance that is imperishable…and being guarded by God’s power. Not only will we not despair and run from the darkness, but we will shine God’s light into it staking our claim to our inheritance.
“If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next” (C. S. Lewis).
Choose the living hope.