By Brooke Stacia DeMott
“If our minds are stayed upon God, His peace will rule the affairs entertained by our minds. If, on the other hand, we allow our minds to dwell on the cares of this world, God›s peace will be far from our thoughts.” Woodrow M Kroll
Driving around last week, preoccupied with a dozen last minute holiday errands necessary to the maintenance of my large family’s slew of traditions, I absently flipped through the radio- and found my attention arrested by a curious preacher named Alistair Begg.
If you were to pass him on the street, it’s not likely that you’d give this unimposing Scottish transplant a second glance (save for his comforting accent.) But over the airwaves, his gripping intensity seizes one’s attention, and his confident authority shatters the notion that he’s just another face in the crowd.
The witty and commanding Begg began to preach a sermon that was unnerving in its honesty. He first read off several graphic examples of human suffering from his local Cleveland, OH newspaper, the likes of which were so disturbing that it brought me to tears in post office parking lot.
“I know what you’re thinking to yourself,” Begg asserted. “You’re thinking, ‘Pastor that’s awfully heavy. I came here looking to be encouraged on a Sunday morning!’ You know what? So did I. And yet I see this, and I ask myself, how can we be encouraged when this is the reality of the world we live in?”
Alistair begs the question that we all ask ourselves from time to time- perhaps this year more than ever. Yet, even prior to global economic fallout, a suspiciously overblown pandemic, and outrageous confusion over governmental processes and the reach of its authority into the private sector, all was never as it should be.
Have we forgotten, then, that all of history showcases a motif of shattered lives, brutal power struggles, toppled empires and dirty back-door politics since the very beginning?
What if I told you that it not only can get worse, but that it’s codified into the God’s eternal plan for humanity that it undoubtedly will?
Can you sense the careening toward some sort of ‘grand finale’?
“…there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened…
… false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you ahead of time…
…the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’ At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.” (Selections of Matthew 24)
Here, Jesus gives a sober prediction of the events that will immediately precede His return to earth, ushering in the judgement day of the Lord.
Considering the world events around us, the passing moments of our lives before us, and in the promise of hardship that awaits us, to the temporal eye, hope seems nefariously out of reach.
But look a little harder.
No one is born with a longing for something which cannot be satisfied.
Hunger exists, because food exists. Thirst anticipates water. A desire to be loved can be fulfilled by marriage, family, and community.
So it follows that this universal ache for purpose and hope for the future must, somehow, have a balm to sooth it.
How are we to reckon the desire for hope with a world that delivers only loss?
“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” C. S. Lewis
The very existence of a desire is the security that it can be filled. The problem is, we are holding our cups under dry fountains when we seek for hope’s consummation in the world around us.
“As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God.” Psalm 42:1
A longing for nutrients can be subdued for a little while if you eat a candy bar, but constant misinterpretation of the need for healthy sustenance will leave you sick and frustrated.
We must rightly identify that our craving is for God Himself, and cease efforts to satiate that desire with ‘food that perishes’ but seek after ‘food that leads to eternal life’- that is, Jesus Christ. (John 6:27)
In the meantime, we continue to traverse this world of fear and loneliness, loss and regret- and in so doing, it’s quite easy to lose focus on the horizon of eternity.
How can we maintain an unwavering hope for the future, even in the midst of the bleak days which lie ahead?
Pastor Begg gives an answer that is both a challenge, and a comfort to his listeners.
“How can we have hope? Inevitably, when I have begun to falter as I survey the world around me, it is because I have failed to remember the sovereignty of God. The psalmist finds solace in God’s providence, declaring, ‘My times are in your hands.’ (Pslam 31:15) The Lord is overruling all things according to His purpose.
And yet! That doesn’t leave us off the hook. You and I are still responsible to him for all that we are, and all that we do.”
While it is the Lord’s to pen the epochs, it is ours to submit our spirits to His purpose- and in so doing, we find our own.
Brooke Stacia DeMott is a columnist with In Good Health newspaper. Got a question for Demott? Feel free to email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. The beliefs and opinions expressed in this column are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of this newspaper or any other agency, organization, employer or company.