You Are Here
“I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo. "So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
One of the appeals of books, movies, and video games is the ability to be transported to another place or time; to escape real life for a moment and experience something else. Usually, this is something we deem more interesting or exciting than what we have going on in our "boring" and "uneventful" daily lives. Other times, this pursuit serves to distract us from current problems we might be facing; to replace pain we are feeling with more positive emotions.
For many, the current times we are living in seem like the makings of a horror film. The oft-referenced novel 1984 by George Orwell seems to have, in many ways, become a reality. Citizens are being locked down and forced to wear masks. Select voices are being silenced. Suspicious activity is being ignored or outright denied by the powers that be (which includes the media). These things are being done with our best interests at heart; or so we are told. Ignore the evidence (or lack thereof) which contradicts the main narrative you are being fed by the talking heads. Do not think for yourself. That is dangerous! (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:21)
A shift in power is happening today in the United States (which do not seem to be so "united" anymore). Those coming into power, by their words and actions, have demonstrated that they do not revere God or His will. As a result, many Christians are wishing they could cancel their subscription to 2021! If voices are being silenced for political reasons in this country, it is foolish to think that it will end there. Religion, undoubtedly, will be next. If we are being told we cannot assemble for worship because it is "too dangerous" for our physical health, why should we think such denials will not start happening because the message we are preaching is "too dangerous?"
As much as we might hate what is happening, we cannot simply close the book or turn off the television. This is life. You are here!
What then are we to do? I will humbly suggest the following...
Trust God - Truth be told, it was not human greatness or skill that fell Goliath, crumbled the walls of Jericho, parted the Red Sea, or allowed 300 men to defeat an innumerable army. It was trust in God. (cf. 1 Samuel 17:45-47; Joshua 6:16, 20; Exodus 14:21; Judges 7:2, 7) It was also trust in God that allowed so many men and women down through the course of history to endure hardship and stand firm upon the truth even in the midst of evil regimes and unimaginable trials! "And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented—of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth." (Hebrews 11:32-38) We must keep our eyes fixed upon Him as they did! No matter who is president of this country, Jesus is still King! If our trust is in the governments of men, today will be a hard pill to swallow, but if our trust is in the governance of God, then it is just another Wednesday. "Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls." (Hebrews 12:1-3)
Focus on what you can control - As much as we would like to have direct control over what other people are doing, there remains this simple truth: You can only control you. I can hope that, after reading this article, you are moved by my words to have faith in God and stay positive, but you might choose to ignore what I am saying. I can, however, choose what I am going to devote my mental energy towards, the kind of media I am going to watch, read, and/or listen to, how I am going to react to other people's behavior, etc. Shake and shine with the intention of positively influencing others, but also work out your own salvation with fear and trembling! (cf. Matthew 5:13-16; Philippians 2:12) "If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men." (Romans 12:18 - emphasis mine) "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going." (Ecclesiastes 9:10) "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things." (Philippians 4:8)
Approach the throne of God - Why is it so hard to pray sometimes? Do you have that problem like I do? Satan does such a good job of convincing us that prayer is not all that important. "God already knows your problems!" "It takes SO much time and energy!" "Other people are praying, I'm sure. That is enough. No need to toss your voice onto the pile!" Stop that! Paul said we should pray without ceasing! (1 Thessalonians 5:17) That means it should be as natural and regular for us as breathing or blinking our eyes. Perhaps the real reason we find ourselves not praying is because Satan has convinced us that it does not really work? I would encourage you to go read 2 Chronicles 20 if that is the case. Prayer is one of the most powerful tools we have in our arsenal because it allows us to prompt He who holds all power to move! Use it! "Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much." (James 5:16) "Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are,yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:14-16)
Nobody wants to see difficult days, but difficult days are inevitable because sin has caused this world to become a dark, dark place. It is the darkness, though, that provides the light its greatest opportunity. God has placed you in this unique moment in history for a reason. He knows that you have the potential to be a source of good in this world. In fact, we all have that potential through Christ. So be joyful, my friends! These tests of our faith hold opportunities to glorify God that we might otherwise never have had. (cf. James 1:2-3) You are here. What happens next is up to you. It's your move. "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light, finding out what is acceptable to the Lord." (Ephesians 5:8, 10)