In times like this we can lose hope, so we need to keep our eyes on eternity:
When individuals or nations are going through tough times, it seems like things will never improve. It can seem to just keep going on and on, with no end in sight. And the worst part of this is when it seems all hope is gone, when it seems like there is no way out. Those prone to depression and suicidal thoughts know all about this.
It is this sense of being boxed in and completely without hope that will push so many folks over the edge. And of course with repressive and irrational lockdown policies in place, we see a real spike in mental health problems and suicides. Sadly, too many folks believe there will be no relief.
Even I can succumb to bouts of depression during this crisis. Living in Victoria does not help – there is no other jurisdiction in the free world that has such draconian, destructive and seemingly never-ending lockdown measures. The suffering is enormous and there seems to be no help in sight.
Hundreds of horror stories could be told here. Let me mention just one from a friend in South Australia who lives near the Victorian border. Like so many people, the corona hysteria has resulted in most elective surgeries being indefinitely postponed.
This gal has had a medical issue she has been battling with since July of last year. But with the moronic lockdown policies, border closures, and so on, she has been stuck. Tomorrow she is hoping she can finally get her much needed surgical procedure performed. She only had to wait 14 months! There are so many others in the same boat.
Even worse examples of a sense of utter despair and loss of hope of course can be discussed. Imagine if you were a prisoner of war during WWII, languishing in a German or Japanese concentration camp. With no word from the outside as to how the war was progressing, most had no idea if and when they might be delivered.
Would they remain there until death, or were the Allies on the verge of breaking through and liberating them? All they could do was hope and pray. Of course some did lose all hope. What a hellish place to be in. It seemed like demonic evil has triumphed, and there was no relief in sight.
One thinks here of the best-selling 1946 book by Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning. Frankl was a prisoner in Nazi concentration camps. A major theme of the book has to do with how they thought about their captivity, what hope they had, and how considerations about the future affected their ability to survive. The prisoners’ psychological and mental views strongly affected their longevity.
Biblical and spiritual reflections
I have written often on biblical, theological and spiritual matters during this year. While one can discuss political, social, medical and scientific aspects of the crisis we are in, we need the other perspectives as well to properly make sense of things.
I have mentioned people I am aware of who are struggling so greatly because of the lockdowns, and their sense of utter hopelessness. And I feel their pain. Being a melancholic sort of guy who has also struggled with depression at times, I must say some of the hardest days in my life have been during the past few months.
I despair not just for myself but for others. And it is not just the inconvenience of lockdowns, but the bigger picture items that so heavily weigh me down. As I have said so often now, two things especially bother me: the ease and speed in which governments can strip its people of their basic freedoms and rights, and the willingness of the masses to go right along with this, ask no questions, and fully defend their captors. It is Stockholm Syndrome on steroids.
This bothers me – and others – immensely. If we can trade away all our freedoms and basic human rights in the vain hope that some all-powerful State can protect us from a virus, then we have already lost. We might as well kiss freedom goodbye permanently. We have already surrendered.
These are the sorts of things that I think about constantly. But when I go to Scripture, I see much to help me endure and have hope. As I have written before, the Bible throughout affirms God’s sovereignty, his rule over the actions, and how evil is always only temporary.
Sure, when you are in the very midst of great evil and suffering, it seems like it is going to last forever. My friend had to wait over a year for her relief to finally arrive. Who knows if Victorians will ever get out of this diabolical lockdown. So we must wait, trust, and not lose hope.
But as I say, when you are in the centre of tough times, it goes on and on. This is where we need perspective – biblical perspective. Even the biblical writers needed this. How often do we read the great saints of God in the Old Testament making these sorts of complaints? “How Long O Lord?” “Why do the wicked prosper?” “When will we see justice?”
I have asked and prayed these very things quite often of late. I wonder how long some of these things will go on. I implore God to act – and to act now. But he knows what he is doing, and his timetable is perfect. But still, when so much evil and injustice seems to be allowed to run riot, one can only cry out to God for some vindication and some justice.
But our timetables are not his. We would all likely do things much differently – and much more quickly, when it comes to stopping evil. A few things must be kept in mind, however. Because we are all sinners and we are all evil, we remember that thankfully God has been merciful to us, and has not judged us so promptly as we have deserved.
Also, whatever suffering and hardship we go through because of evil rulers and the like always has to be measured in the light of eternity. I have often brought up the case of those forced to live under godless communism in Russia. For a full 72 years (from 1917 to 1989) this horrific tyranny went unchecked.
Millions of people both within and without this communist hellhole would have prayed for God’s deliverance. Sure, it eventually came, and the wall came down, but it was an awfully long time. Some people were born, lived and died in that 72-year period. All they ever knew was suffering and misery; they never did witness their release, their liberation.
Just as wicked and godless nations can seem to go on for far too long, so too can wicked and godless individuals. Last night I caught a few minutes of a television program that looks at how famous people died – at what was their actual cause of death.
This one featured Hugh Hefner of Playboy fame. The one thing that stood out for me was the fact that he died at the ripe old age of 91. Two things especially went through my mind. One, I and so many other Christians had prayed for him when he was alive, that God would either improve him or remove him.
Yet he lived for nearly a century! It is as if our prayers were not answered. I am not aware of any death-bed conversion on his part. He seems to have lived his life of sin, sleaze and debauchery right up to the very end. How many millions of people were negatively impacted by this one man, and how many have ended up in a lost eternity because of this ungodly guy?
Two, one could be tempted to think he had it made. From 1953 when he founded his porn mag, till his death in 2017, he was surrounded by all the beautiful women he wanted. What a life, some might think. Of course it is all a delusion. He may have had his fun, but compared to eternity, those 64 years were nothing.
Christians will always wonder why the wicked seem to live such long and seemingly problem-free lives. And they will also wonder why so many great saints have died so young. One thinks of Christian musician Keith Green who died at the age of 28. I discuss others who died quite young here: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2017/05/16/12-great-christians-died-quite-young/
It is easy to get discouraged and depressed and to start to lose hope. If we look at this world only through human eyes, it seems like evil so often triumphs, so often succeeds, and so often goes on and on. But righteousness and godliness seem to fare much less well in comparison.
But here we need the eyes of faith. We need to see the big picture. We need to learn the lessons of Scripture. All evil WILL one day be judged. All good WILL one day be acknowledged. We must stay the course, no matter how dark the times and no matter how much it seems like evil has now got the upper hand.
God is fully aware of what is happening on planet earth. He sees what the wicked and ungodly are doing, and he is not indifferent to that. He also sees what his own people are enduring and going through, and he is not indifferent to their plight either.
So hang in there. It is tough right now, and things may get a whole lot tougher. But we must keep our focus on eternity. What is happening now is only very temporary. As A. W. Tozer once put it, “We must meet the uncertainties of this world with the certainty of the world to come.”