By any estimate, this has been a challenging year. In addition to the strain brought on by COVID-19, our nation has experienced civil unrest, cultural upheaval, and a contentious presidential election season.
While election day is upon us, post-election chaos and increased discord seem likely to be with us for the foreseeable future.
We should all pray for our nation as it undergoes such tremendous strain. The words of John Newton, author of Amazing Grace, seem rather fitting, despite being written about England in 1794:
Appearances are very dark at present. Besides what we may expect or fear from the rage and madness of our foreign enemies, we have much to apprehend at home. A spirit of discord has gone forth. Many seem weary of liberty, peace, and order. Our happy constitution, our mild government, our many privileges, admired by other nations, are despised and depreciated among ourselves—not only by the thoughtless and licentious, and those who, having little to lose, may promise themselves a possibility of gain in a time of disturbance and confusion, but they are abetted and instigated by persons of sense, character, and even of religion. I should be quite at a loss to account for this, if I did not consider it as a token of the Lord’s displeasure. When He withdraws His blessing, no union can long subsist!
Difficult days are nothing new for God’s people, but the solution to where to turn for guidance remains the same: God’s Word.
There are many passages of Scripture that were written specifically to Christians who were experiencing hardships and facing uncertainty.
The book of 1 Peter was written to believers who were suffering persecution for their faith. Peter’s letter declares the grace of God so that they would “stand firm in it” (5:12) and live as followers of Christ even in hard times.
Look at the guidance Peter gives in 1 Peter 4:7-11:
The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Yes, their immediate circumstances were more extreme than ours, but that only makes this clear teaching even more readily applicable to our day.
No matter what happens in the world around us, even if “the end of all things is at hand,” our calling as believers remains the same: to be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of our prayers.
In other words, we should be alert and exercise sound judgment, with clear minds so that we might pray as we ought.
And “above all,” Peter says, we should love one another earnestly!
We must not grumble, but instead we are to show hospitality and use our gifts to serve one another. To what end? “in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.”
These are challenging days. But not matter what happens – either with the pandemic or the election or the nation as a whole – our calling is clear. We are to live lives that glorify God through love and service in His name – especially towards those in the household of faith.
No matter what tomorrow’s headlines bring, let’s not lose our focus on the things of eternal importance. We must seek the Lord in humble prayer, asking for His mercy on our nation and His strength to live lives of obedience in a fallen world.
In the midst of the uncertainty and difficulties, may we all keep our thoughts on the grace of God so that we might stand firm in it.
– Pastor Clay