Words of Hope

This came through email this evening.  It is so appropriate for the time and place we are at this moment in time.
Subject: Words of hope

November 5th, 2008

Without God’s perspective, it would be easy to despair when we survey the bleak political landscape. It sounds like an outline for a novel: A few media elitists suppressing truth; citizens ignoring the warnings of history; an economic crisis swelling at the worst possible moment; and a rising political star trumpeting change. The shadowy change has not yet been defined, but appears to include Marxist ideals, a rejection of Biblical standards, and treachery toward the innocent unborn. It sounds like a dark story, but did evil really triumph in America on November 4th?

God was not taken by surprise. The capture of a political office is not done in voter booths, but by God’s permission. (Psa. 75:6-7) To see His direct involvement in our world, we only need to look to the heavens above and consider the microscopic size of our massive galaxy. The same God who spoke all this into existence controls the affairs of our planet. (Isa. 40:21-28)

Throughout this election year, we have prayed for the mercy of God. It may be that God has already moved in answer to our petitions. It may be that God’s will is best accomplished through this apparent advance of evil.

The worst thing is not for America to have evil leadership. The worst thing is for the Church of Jesus Christ to live in doubt and disobedience. Because of this reality, bad political news can actually be good news for the Church. We do not like an alarm clock when it wakes us, but we are later glad for the alarm clock, because it woke us and got us on the schedule we knew we should keep. Bad political news can be the wake-up alarm for a sleeping Church.

Sometimes when things look bad, we wonder why we could not have lived in a different time when things were easier and life was more gentle. Why could we not live in the Golden Age of America, we ask, when people went to Church, loved their country, worked hard, and ate apple pie? To this Solomon warns, “Do not say, `Why were the former days better than these? For you do not inquire wisely concerning this.” (Eccl. 7:10)

There are many unchangeable “pre-sets” in our lives that we cannot adjust. One of these was the time we were born. He created us to live now, at this place, at this time. Joseph Hall wrote, “Not to be afflicted is a sign of weakness; for…God imposeth no more on me, because he sees I can bear no more.” To live in a time of darkness and adversity is a compliment of God, for it says that He has deemed us strong enough for a challenge.

It is easy to think of the heroes of Hebrews 11 as extraordinary people with a faith now extinct. But God included stories of their failures to remind us they were normal people. What made them extraordinary was not their lives, but their faith, demonstrated in close quarters against evil, at arm’s length, when things seemed impossible. (Heb. 11:33-38)

Now we are runners in a relay race of faith that they began. We are being watched by a massive crowd of spectators in heaven, including those who once carried the baton we now hold. (Heb. 12:1-2) What we do in 2008 carries on the story of the Elijahs, Daniels, Careys, Carmichaels, and Wilberforces. Just as a relay coach puts his fastest runner last, so it may be that God has put us later in history with the expectation of greater faith.

Oswald Chambers said, “I have to believe that God is good in spite of all that contradicts it in my experience. …Everyone’s soul represents some kind of battlefield. The point for each one is whether we will hang in and say, `Though things look black, I will trust in God.'” Now, when evil encroaches upon us, the true quality and depth of our faith is revealed.

How should we carry the baton of faith today?
• For some of us who have worked in recent months on political campaigns promoting righteousness, faith means surveying the work that some would call wasted, and saying instead with John Quincy Adams, “Duty is ours; results are God’s.” We have done what we could, and God can be greatly glorified by our efforts, whether our work succeeds or fails.
• For others, our act of great faith today will be our confession of sin and renewed commitment to separate from worldliness.
• For some of us, great faith means training our children today to bear the torch of the Gospel into the dark places of the earth.
• For others, great faith is battling on to save those who have no helper, whom God has promised to deliver.
• For some, faith today means fighting to allow Biblical truth to be proclaimed at home and abroad.
• For others, it is risking rejection to proclaim this truth while we can.

From God’s perspective, things are far better today than they appear. Bad political news is a wake-up call for the Church. It is in adversity that the Church of Jesus Christ continually excels. Unlike the fate of a defeated political foe, the Church will again rise against evil.

May the advance of darkness convince us to forsake our respectable sins, remember the promises of our God, and respond with resolute faith to unmatched opportunities to shine for Christ. In a few years we may join the heavenly spectators, watching the story of faith continue on earth. But we’re not spectators yet! The test of our faith is today. It’s our turn.

Russ Bennett
November 5th, 2008

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