Sometimes I really look forward to writing. The challenge of searching for some combination of words that accurately convey ideas and emotions is stimulating. It can even feel exciting in the sense that it fuels a dependence on God. His involvement brings with it the possibility of spiritual discovery that both the writer and the reader might be able to experience together. Other times, inescapable situations and circumstances can so grip the mind and heart that sorting out thoughts and feelings is like attempting to untie some gordian knot. This is one of those times.
Not an Encouraging Picture ~ Contemplating the potential multi-faceted impact of the events that unfolded in the past week, and the months leading up to it, is nothing less than mind-numbing and heart-wrenching. We’re facing a time in this country that most of us never thought we’d ever see, a time when our most foundational values and beliefs are being threatened like never before in modern history. Institutions and agencies that we used to trust are no longer reliable. Attitudes and patterns of behavior like deference and respect that used to be social norms have been replaced by a narcissistic, “it’s all about me” attitude. Political clout, ideology, and wealth are clearly more important considerations in our multi-tiered system of justice than righteousness, truth, and equality before the law. Manipulation seems to be the rule of the day as people are drawn into every kind of special interest group imaginable and they’re continually pitted against one another. Powerful forces run by people who don’t have to live in the violent chaos they create use these group identities to manipulate people like pawns in a sick game. And these are only a few of the issues confronting us.
For decades now, the sobering words of the Prophet, Isaiah, have come to mind again and again, and I’ve said that the increasingly anti-Christian culture we live in is turning the moral, spiritual, and ethical world upside down. The truth of that declaration is clearer now than it has ever been and his warning is more applicable to our nation than ever before in my lifetime. He said:
Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20 NKJV)
Not Prophetic Hyperbole ~ The bizarre picture Isaiah paints may seem to be no more than an exercise in prophetic hyperbole, but the multitude of commonplace examples make it clear that it’s not so far fetched at all. For instance, the act of killing millions of innocent babies is fiercely defended as a human right. People can defy biological realities on a whim and officially change their gender by simply declaring themselves to be something they’re not. Basic designations of familial roles and relationships, like mother, father, niece, nephew, grandmother, grandfather, etc., have been stripped from accepted speech in the primary place where our rights and freedoms are supposed to be protected. Examples of this kind of collective insanity go on and on, but no further evidence is needed. The sick, twisted perspective on basic realities that Isaiah described are quite real today. But as God’s spokesmen always do, he also warned that consequences would follow and we’re watching the “woe” he spoke of unfold with frightening speed.
A Relevant Question ~ Unfortunately, pointing out that such things are prevalent on a national scale doesn’t seem to help ordinary people like us, since affecting them directly is pretty much out of our reach. The relevant question for us is what, if anything, can we do about it? As we might expect, God has not left us without recourse. Let’s begin by looking at David’s impassioned plea to God in the midst of a dark time.
Hear my cry, O God; attend to my prayer. From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For You have been a shelter for me, a strong tower from the enemy. (Psalm 61:1–3 NKJV)
Facing overwhelming obstacles with nowhere to turn and no strength left is not a place anyone wants to be. Scenes like that conjure up thoughts of powerlessness and despair, but God sees it differently. Suffering and loss, in His hands, are often the pathway to deliverance and the doorway of hope leading to possibilities that we would not find otherwise.
Hope Emerges ~ Again and again, God allowed the self-indulgent, disobedient, and openly sinful behaviors of His people to lead to the disintegration of all the protective principles He had ordained for them. Their passionate pursuit of pleasure at any cost led to the kind of self-inflicted bondage to lust that weakens a nation and offers an open invitation for their enemies to enslave them further. They had spurned God’s gracious and merciful plea to repent and return to Him but found that pain, grief, and the loss of freedom were not quite so easy to ignore. As the impact of their rebellion settled in, they would begin to cry out to God with a sense of desperate dependence that was missing in the prosperous times. Grief and loss may be God’s instruments to chastise His people, but He also uses them to open a door of deliverance. Consider His merciful promise to Israel, spoken in the context of a forgiving husband to an unfaithful wife:
Therefore, behold, I will allure her, will bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfort to her. I will give her her vineyards from there, and the Valley of Achor [a place of judgment and death] as a door of hope (Hosea 2:14–15 NKJV)
It might seem harsh that God’s offer was to bring her into a wilderness, but hope is never more powerfully transformational than when it emerges in the midst of a barren and frightening desert. The moral landscape confronting us may be bleak and threatening, but there’s a personal invitation wrapped in it. We’re being called to a wilderness meeting with God, a personal appointment to meet with Him. He is waiting to cleanse us and equip us to counteract the spiritual vacuum sucking the life out of our country. These are dark and threatening times, but days like these call us closer to the One who has already overcome everything that an oppositional world could throw at Him. Jesus Himself promised that, in Him, we will overcome as well:
These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. (John 16:33 NKJV)
And to close today, I leave you with this additional affirmation and further word of encouragement given to us by John:
For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 5:4–5 NKJV)
“TWEETABLES” ~ Click to tweet and share from the pull quotes below. Each one links directly back to this article through Twitter . . .
- “Powerful forces run by people who don’t have to live in the violent chaos they create use these group identities to manipulate people like pawns in a sick game.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “Facing overwhelming obstacles with nowhere to turn and no strength left is not a place anyone wants to be. Powerlessness, despair, suffering and loss, in God’s hands, are often the pathway to deliverance and the doorway of hope.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “Again and again, God allowed the self-indulgent, disobedient, and openly sinful behaviors of His people to lead to the disintegration of all the protective principles He had ordained for them.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “We’re being called to a wilderness meeting with God, a personal appointment to meet with Him. He is waiting to cleanse us and equip us to counteract the spiritual vacuum sucking the life out of our country.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 5:4–5 NKJV) @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
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