“When the tempest passes, the wicked is no more, but the righteous is established forever.” (Proverbs 10:25)
We have all had hard times in our lives, but sometimes it seems like wave after wave of bad news keeps crashing against us, giving us little time to catch our breath. This year has felt like that to many, maybe even you.
Sometimes, in the midst of that constant barrage, we can begin to feel like we are losing our grip, like the darkness will swallow us, and we will be lost. Can I point to some hope in these times? “When the tempest passes, the wicked is no more, but the righteous is established forever.” (Proverbs 10:25)
What a great verse to remember for 2020. Every tempest and storm in life passes. The question we need to answer is, will we be standing on the other side? For the follower of Christ, the answer is an exuberant “yes!”
The tempest in your life might not be a person, it might be sickness, or financial troubles. It could be heartbreak, or maybe loss of a loved one. These too will pass. The sin which has brought into our world death, destruction, disease, calamity, and wicked people has been defeated upon the cross.
One day soon, the Lord will return and the storm will pass. One day, all will be made right in this world and all evil, and every effect from the fall will be brought to perfect righteousness.
The tempest will pass. Cling to Jesus in the storm. But if you feel your grip begin to slip, don’t worry. He is holding you firmly in his hands. And nothing can snatch you away.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.“
Right now, the world seems very dark. In the US, elections are looming like a dark cloud and whispers of revolution after the election tell us that disruptions will not be over once the election is decided.
The threats of the Coronavirus are once again being touted on the media and communities all over the world are beginning to close again.
Hurricanes have struck the southern Gulf states and wildfires have decimated the West.
Rioting has continued in some areas, and will most likely begin again following the elections on Tuesday. Other parts of the world are feeling the tightening fist of control take advantage of these uncertain days.
Add to these the personal struggles with sickness, joblessness, depression, hunger and poverty, heartbreak, wayward children and those who have run headlong to embrace the darkness, and these days are long and heavy.
A dark, cold winter is coming upon us–something that has nothing to do with the weather outside. A spiritual darkness is over our world and it has settled over the US.
My daily readings in the Bible have brought me to the minor prophets and the book of Revelation. The book of Micah speaks about the fact that most of the prophets were unfaithful, speaking lies to appease the people and to gain a benefit for themselves. And Revelation 10 (my reading today) speaks of the unthinkable judgment that is still in the future for the world.
While the darkness of the world can have an anxiety inducing effect upon those who do not know Jesus Christ as their Savior, it should not have this effect upon the children of God. As Jesus said in Matthew 5 above, we are a light in this dark world, like a city upon a hill that glows with life. We are like a lamp in a dark house that gives light and hope and joy to the home.
Jesus is our hope. The prophets of the Bible didn’t only speak about judgment that was coming for sin, they also spoke of the hope and restoration of a new world for God’s people. This world is not our home. We all need to keep saying this to ourselves as we think about what is happening–This world is not my home!
I’m not speaking about running away, or about an ejection button that allows me to disengage from the world and its darkness and fears. I am saying that this broken world can never give us hope or safety or comfort the way that Jesus Christ does. And while we are here, for as long as Jesus holds off on his return, we ought to be holding out that light to those still in the darkness, longing for hope and seeking desperately for peace.
Hold out your lamp. Call your lost neighbors to the warm glow of knowing Christ. Shine brightly with the hope of the New Jerusalem even amidst the broken misery of the city of man. It is coming and we shall soon see our King. Don’t dwell in fear and don’t lose hope.
“For when we were with you, we kept telling you beforehand that we were to suffer affliction, just as it has come to pass, and just as you know.”
(1 Thessalonians 3:4, ESV)
Over the last several decades, many within the American Church have moved from an attitude of expectancy for the imminent return of Christ, to one where the world isn’t so bad and, since we kinda like it here, we should make our stay more comfortable. After all, the world was much more accepting and tolerant of Christian ideals and the gospel message (so long as we modified it a bit and kept all those judgy parts out).
What too many evangelicals forgot was that embedded in the Christian message of Christ is a subversive element that demands that rebellious sinners must bow the knee to Christ and come to him as King and Savior. Somehow evangelicals thought that they could woo and attract the world to like us, then maybe our softer, gentler message, and before they caught on, they’d be loving Jesus. There are still many churches that continue on believing this fantasy.
But as Paul wrote to the Christians in Thessalonica, the church should have maintained its course to proclaim an uncompromising message that would eventually result in a head-on confrontation between Christ’s servants and the servant of the ruler of this world.
Instead of settling in for a long, delightful stay here in this world system that rejects our God, the Church and her ministers should never have capitulated to the spirit of the age, and should have stayed the course. And instead of a watered-down gospel message to the world, the Church should have been proclaiming the message of faith in our God who will carry us through the fire and the water, and will lead us home, even amidst a world that is burning with rage against the King.
“Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.”” (Psalm 2:1–3, ESV)
Now, in 2020, the climate has changed, and in many churches where the softer, kinder message of cultural sensitivity has ruled and where being buddies with Jesus was the goal, the people of God are largely left unarmed to defend against an openly hostile public. They have failed to become battle hardened and ready. Many are filled with fear instead of faith. Some are placing their trust elsewhere, like when Israel called upon the pagan nations to save her.
And it’s not as if these things should have surprised Christians. The world has never really been favorable to our faith. They have been more tolerant at times. They have let us speak, and meet and even testify of the Lord. But we have been tolerated, not embraced. Why should we be surprised? Did not our Lord warn us? ““Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.” (Luke 6:26, ESV)
It is still not too late to be prepared. If those who have bought into the softer-gentler form of Chrisitanity will faithfully return to the Word of God, we will find that it contains all we need to refocus upon the truth and find our greatest comfort and hope. When we once again place our hope in Christ, our eyes on heaven as our true home, our needs satisfied in Him alone, we will no longer love nor need this world. When we see sin and wickedness more clearly, we will long to be free from this world that drags us down. We will long for our resurrection, for our glorification, for our eyes to see Him face to face, as He is.
We must suffer in this world. We must face persecution. We must be reviled because of Christ. We must be ready. It is coming.
But we must not be afraid. We must not shrink back or compromise. We must not fear man who can only kill the body. We must cling to the One who has saved our souls. We must cling to the promises. We must cling to the cross.
Are your prepared? Are you ready? Jesus is coming soon. Until he comes, may we be engaged in the good warfare, taking as many with us to heaven as we can.