Now that the fateful election is behind us, the pandemic is still with us and surging, the economy is seriously lagging with little promise of any imminent relief, with people everywhere still hunkering down in fear and suffocating in social isolation (at last count Olsie and I alone have 11 extended family members recovering from COVID), with the ugly specter of aggressive socialism unleashed on a deaf and dumb nation, along with militant atheism breathing down our necks, with sexual anarchy accelerating all over the place, with the abortion industry ratcheting up its slaughterhouses with devilish delight, with unsettling civil unrest percolating on all fronts, (and the prospect of more sleepless nights perhaps in the offing), one asks:
How are we believers to cope with this bizarre (and demonic) new world that 2020 dumped so unceremoniously on us?
As a country I suspect we have gotten a bitter foretaste of what we have been asking for. I personally fear that the worst is yet to come. (My wife reminds me, “Jimmy, you are a Jeremiah.” I quite agree and unapologetically own his temperament.) So, let’s get real.
A great throng of us sense that 2020 marks an unhappy departure, a great divide in our nation’s history from which there is likely no coming back. There is a sinking feeling that we as a nation have suddenly left the Old World behind, and are now adrift, utterly oarless like lost mariners on violent waves of stormy high seas, aboard a leaky ship of state with nothing but besotted pilots in the wheelhouse, and drifting and driven further and further into some dark, uncharted direction. We sense that where we are headed, wherever it is, a totally different and undesirable shore.
In retrospect many of us at least have seen all too clearly how in His providence our Sovereign God set up the outcomes we have seen ominously taking shape. Its evolution has been kind of stunning actually; only the rapidity has surprised. We have marveled at the human assistance and incredible blindness of those (including a host of professing Christians), who, blundering along, have played naÏve handmaids to Satan, failing to see their complicitly in the sinister shape things have taken, the full impact of which we can’t even begin to reckon at the present time.
So, it is what it is.
As believers, what is, is what we must come to grips with, not the world as it used to be or still wish it would be.
How do we deal with a country gone mad ‘guided’ obvious mental cases at the helm egged on by their supremely foolish counselors who are giving every sign that they are going to take our country in directions that will surely destroy any residue of good that remains in it? They show every promise of ‘rescuing’ utter defeat from any thin prospect of moral victory. (“Amen and awoman,” anybody? Oh boy. Did any of you ever imagine in your lifetime that you would hear such utter nonsense from anyone but a drunk or deranged congressman?)
Here are my thoughts about going forward:
- Let us remember that our Sovereign God is in control of all matters in Heaven above and on earth below. God never slips on a banana peel. He is firmly in charge of human history and all the little piss ants who think they are.
- Let us remember that His control of history does not mean He is directing its course into channels we would prefer. God is a gracious God, but He is also a holy God. He will not continuously permit humans who forget Him to disregard His law and trample on His will a minute beyond His self-imposed limits. When the time is right, He will speak for Himself. Eventually, bills come due. His patience has its limits. In His time God will send people a message. It is His habit to start His messaging with His unfaithful family. I suspect that is happening. Our churches could use a good housecleaning.
- Let us remember that in ordering His world, God makes no mistakes. There is never an “Oops! In what He ordains. He gets it right the first time and the last. ‘Right’ may be a fright from our perspective, but whatever God wants is what is wisest in the big scheme of things.
- Let remember that when God sets in motion His interim retributions for the wicked, His corollary purpose is to refine His saints. These judicial strokes are not intended to beat up the righteous but to simultaneously stir us up and to shape us up.
- Let us remember that in the end God causes all things to work together (pain and pleasure, good and evil, heavy and light) for the (spiritual) good of those who love God and are called according to His purposes.
- Let us remember that the sufferings of this present world are not worthy to be compared to the glory God has in store for us.
- Let us remember this world is not our home, but Heaven is our destiny. Our reward is not here, but there with Christ. Forget that ‘your best life now’ nonsense.
- Let us remember that the things this hostile world may throw at us, while He may allow them to injure us, can never in the end harm us. God loves His own and in all the chaos is always looking out for us in the end.
- Let us remember that we are not here to save America, to redeem its founding ideals from those who do not share them, to rescue our traditional culture from those determined to overthrow it, but to glorify God and enjoy Him forever in all things.
- Let us remember not to pitch our tents on the right or the left, but to drive our stakes firmly in the kingdom where Christ rules. Belong to no person or party but Christ. Align with His interests, His law and His will and shun any alliance that may cause us to deviate.
- Let us remember not to get caught up in fear of or anger over subversive forces or influences in such a way as to go to battle with them in the armaments of the flesh. Let us resist the world only the weapons of light (i.e., joyfully keeping His commandments and walking in an indomitable faith in Christ and in our ultimate triumph in Him). Let us refuse to let our passion for the truth and the glory of God get us sidetracked into actions and agendas of those who prefer to do combat with arms of men rather than the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
- Let us remember that in the end we win, we win big, and in the interim, we have the grace and help of the Spirit of God to sustain us. In Christ He gives us everything necessary for life and godliness.
- Let us remember to prepare our minds by investing more time in prayer and in the Word than sulking and seething at the latest flush of bad news from the media toilet.
- Let us remember our mission as well as our manners. We are not here to stir the political pot or to vent our rage against the secular Machine but left here by Christ to damn the devil’s torpedoes and make disciples for Christ.
- Finally, in pursuit of that project, let us abandon grandiose ideas of taking over the wheels of the culture that invariably corrupt those who seek influence and power. Let us leave the big picture to God and concentrate simply on what James Davidson Hunter calls “being a faithful presence” in this God-forsaken climate. Let us focus on just being salt and light in a dark and perverse world, headed, as always, straight to Hell in the devil’s handbasket.
That’s my pastoral advice for going forward. It is biblical to the bone. Follow that track and all will be well in the end.