It can be difficult to remember the security of our eternity when we are facing the ugly realities of a sinful and fallen world. In a time when human life is devalued, when virtue is weakened or even shamed, and when our God is continually shoved out of a culture that constantly claims to esteem love above everything else, it is tempting for God's people to fall into discouragement and even despair.
We are feeling the pains the world felt during the 400 years between the Old and New Testaments when God's guiding voice seemed silent. We're seeing the foundations of our nation's spiritual heritage broken down and threatened. How are we to cope without shrinking away into our faith with fear?
Here are three exhortations that I pray will keep you grounded, joyful and hopeful in a quickly-dimming world.
First of all, we must not dismay. This means we should not sink into hopelessness and stagnancy as a result of challenges to our faith. Dismay gives the powers of darkness an easier job. Do not relent! Take the challenge as a sacred calling, and be fueled with the joy of the Lord, which will be your strength.
In fact, we must remember the overwhelming joy that the birth of Christ brought to earth. Recall what the angel told the frightened shepherds that very night: "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people" (Luke 2:10). Note, "all the people." It is not only our blessing and privilege to be recipients of this joy, but to also be joy-bringers and heralds of hope to others, just as the angel that blessed night proclaimed.
Second, we must remember that God has not left us, and never will leave us. Jesus is Immanuel, "God with us," and the Bible has made it clear that He is coming back again (Hebrews 9:28). The world is aching for Christ, and we have an ordained duty to bring His love and truth to those around us while we wait for His triumphant return.
Even when the world seems to be falling apart, we have a steadfast and unshakable foundation in our victorious God. And when He does come again, heaven and earth will be reconciled in a beautiful and holy display of our Creator's power. Even in the darkest days, when evil seems to reign, remember God still sits on His throne.
So that brings me to my third and final exhortation: we must rejoice!
We have a Savior who is victorious over the grave and was not contained by the tomb. While we await His return, let us remind others of this Gospel, this Good News. Let us live with faith, conviction and courage even in the fiery world around us.
All around us, people are broken by their sin and beaten down by their lives, and they need a loving Christian to tell them about the One who died and rose and is coming again.
Will you be that Christian?