Signs of the Times: Faith in Times of Darkness

Signs of the Times: Faith in Times of Darkness

Much of contemporary news is about some tragic circumstance somewhere. It ranges from financial crises to terrorism and wars and conflicts to drug-related violence to homelessness to persecution of Christians to devastation due to climate change to leftover land mines to lack of water in various places to horrible repressive governments. Currently, the major event happening in most places around the globe is the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Thinking about all that is wrong and all the suffering in the world can leave us feeling depressed if we stop there and we don’t take these situations to God in prayer. But He also uses this in our lives as we look to Him for hope in a broken world.

Being reminded of the terrible straits that so many people are in always helps to divert our attention from our own problems and difficulties. Repeatedly being made aware of the suffering and trauma that so many people experience on a daily basis helps to remind us of the relative insignificance of our own difficulties and struggles and to be acutely aware of how blessed we are to be largely untouched by so many extremely sad and difficult things.

I see how very rich in spirit and blessings I am, how abundantly supplied for. My feet walk in pleasant paths, my eyes behold peaceful meadows, my ears hear beautiful music. I don’t hear the bombs of war. I don’t drink polluted water. I don’t live in a cardboard shack. I don’t hear words of cruelty from harsh taskmasters. I’m not imprisoned in a filthy cell.

I live in peace. Most people I encounter smile and say kind words. I have the freedom to openly talk about my faith. I can enjoy my loved ones. I have a warm bed. I can go out without fear. I’m truly rich in so many ways that are so easy to take for granted!

Listening to the news helps me to pray for those who are suffering around the world. It also helps me to be much more positive and thankful for the “lightness” of my burdens, which are nothing compared with those of so many others.

We who are Christians may still have to struggle and face deep sorrow and suffering. Sometimes we may not feel very wealthy. However, in terms of spiritual provision, freedom, and answers to many of the questions of life, we are richly blessed. As a result, we have the responsibility to share what we have with those the Lord leads us to, and to pray for those who are suffering and have incurred great loss.

We know that things in the world will wax worse and worse as we draw nearer to the time of the End (2 Timothy 2:13). With Jesus as our personal counselor and guide, we are prepared. We have what it takes for our own personal circumstances, and we have what it takes to be a comfort and encouragement to others.

If events occurring in the world, such as the current pandemic, impact our lives, they do cause setbacks and suffering. There may be fear on every side, and in the natural, it does look like there is a valid reason for fear. But we, His children, dwell in the secret place of the Most High, nestled in His arms, where He is going to keep us safe. We may feel the effects of the storm and the heavy winds and the waves, but He says:

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.—Isaiah 41:10

For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear.--Hebrews 13:5-6.

When faced with the suffering and desperate needs of so many in the world today, you may not feel you have much to offer. But in spite of difficulties, deficiencies, inferiorities, disabilities, afflictions, or impediments, we all can do our part. Like the boy who gave his lunch to Jesus because he thought it would help others (John 6:9–13). And it did—in a far greater way than he could have ever imagined! What Jesus accomplished through the boy’s offering that day probably affected his and others’ lives forever.

Never underestimate the small things you can do that can make a difference: the smile that can cheer someone’s heart, the little word that can be an encouragement, the tract that can convey Jesus’ love, the offering to God’s work, or the contribution to the poor. He uses some of the smallest things as tools to have great impact on the lives of others.

Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important.—1 Corinthians 1:26–28 NLT

God had great commendation for the widow who, though she gave so little, comparatively gave more than the rich men because she gave all she had. He said, “Everyone else gave what they didn’t need. But she is very poor and gave everything she had” (Luke 21:4 CEV). He sees your heart and He knows what your sacrifices cost you, and it is great in His eyes.