A strange sort of optimism

And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, every one who is found written in the book” (Daniel 12:1 NKJV).

When one thinks of all of the wars, famines, atrocities, and other crimes perpetrated by humans upon each other over the centuries of history, it is almost an impossible task to determine which particular event was the most horrible.

On two different, but similar, occasions a prophecy is made in the Bible about trouble greater than ever experienced, before or since. One of these is in the book of Daniel, referring to a particular invasion of Judah almost 200 years before the birth of Christ. The other was spoken by Jesus himself, and is believed by many to refer to the Jewish rebellion against Rome which would occur in 70 A.D., when the city of Jerusalem was once again destroyed (Matthew 24:21).

The interesting thing about each of those prophecies is that God’s people are assured of his protection and of their ultimate deliverance. No, he does not promise that none of them will suffer or die, but rather promises that no matter what happens, he will deliver.

I have found myself becoming more cynical with each passing year, at least as far as conditions of life on this earth are concerned.

  • It seems that every day tells of new tragedies, and all signs point to worsening conditions with regard to violence, poverty, disease, and almost every other category.
  • From global warming to the destruction of the rain forests, our environment is degraded.
  • New wars and conflicts break out continually.
  • Terrorism seems to increase dramatically with each season.

From a purely physical standpoint, things just don’t look very good.

But precisely at that point and in those circumstances, our God speaks to us to say, “You are my people and I am here to help.” We will not always know how he will help us or what he will do, but that is his promise.

If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies, who is he who condemns? . . . Who shall separate us from the love of Christ” (Romans 8:31-35).

As I travel in various parts of the world, it seems that trouble is everywhere. No country or race is immune from the many problems of violence, crime, disease, and natural disasters. We sometimes talk about being “in the right place at the wrong time,” essentially blaming fate for our problems. The truth is, every place is prone to trouble, and every time may be a bad time.

In the face of all of this Jesus speaks clearly:

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:33-34).

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