2020 has been challenging for most of us, to say the least. The year started with the rumblings of an alleged killer virus that was devastating parts of China. Before we knew it the entire world, including the US, was threatened by a pandemic. One evil report after another shut down life as we knew it and pushed us to the threshold of economic collapse. To date, many of our citizens are still economically displaced, and the world that was, only a few months ago, seems like the distant past. Just when it seemed that we might be emerging from the Corona abyss, then came the massive protests, riots and vandalism that today are threatening to establish lawlessness as acceptable behavior in our society. One has to wonder, “What’s next?”
A couple of years ago, so many of God’s people had great expectations for positive change in America with the “Reprieve” that occurred with the election of President Trump. Yes, there have been quite a number of positive things accomplished under this administration — the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the relocation of the US Embassy to Jerusalem stands out as does his defense of people of faith. Still, the argument could be made that with the exception of the American Civil War, this nation has never been so divided and so close to the complete collapse of societal norms. At this point, it’s anyone’s guess as to how things will turn out.
Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this constant and mounting pressure is that it is beginning to take its toll on God’s people. People of great faith find themselves fighting depression, fear, and in many cases, anger. Some are convinced that what is occurring around us is an attempt to dislodge the President and to erase the positive steps that have been taken to restore some semblance of our once great republic. Many are fearful of what might happen in November seeing that so much of the political establishment and mass media are working tirelessly to undermine President Trump. Add to this their enthusiastic support of organizations that are fomenting anarchy and revolution, and it’s easy to see how one could give in to despair. There is no doubt that we are living in precarious times.
The goal here is not to address what caused these troubling developments, political or otherwise, or even the prophetic implications necessarily, but to acknowledge the effect it is having on people — specifically God’s people. If the state of affairs in our world is producing fear, doubt, and anger in believers, then we must ask “Why?” While we’re pondering the answer, let us be reminded that NONE of what has recently occurred has taken our Heavenly Father by surprise.
To the contrary, it is He who is shaking America and all nations in order to see what is worthy of remaining and to determine who will continue to stand (Hebrews 12:27).
More to the point: if we are fearful, why exactly are we afraid? Is it because we feel our children might not grow up in a country that resembles what we grew up in? If we are fighting depression, why are we feeling depressed? Is it because our current lifestyle might be in jeopardy? If we are doubtful, who are we doubting? Are we doubting men, or are we doubting that God will do what we hoped that He would do in our country? If we are angry, with whom are we angry? Are we angry with Antifa, the Progressives, and the media who seem to impose their will on us unchecked, or with God for allowing it to happen?
Here is what I’m getting at: if God is shaking this nation (and I believe He is), it is critical that we not allow ourselves to be so focused on the problems that we lose sight of Him and His purposes. Frankly, I think it is fair to say that many of us are disappointed that things haven’t worked out the way we thought they would or should — at least not yet. But we mustn’t lose heart and allow disappointment to become discouragement.
To be disappointed is to be sad or displeased because someone or something has failed to fulfill our expectations. To be discouraged is to lose confidence in someone and have no enthusiasm for a purpose. We know that disappointment, and even discouragement, is easily realized where men are concerned, but what about when it pertains to the Almighty? It is one thing to be disappointed that God has not met our expectations whether in our personal life or in our nation, but it is another thing entirely to become discouraged. Where our disappointment is concerned, the problem is not with God’s plans and purposes but with our expectations; perhaps they were never in sync with God’s will. If we fail to recognize this and continue focusing on the problems that surround us, we risk losing confidence in Him and His purpose. Where discouragement is concerned, the problem is that it results in disaster.
The children of Israel were disappointed to learn that in order to possess the land of Canaan they were going to have to fight those who were currently holding it — the giants and those living in fortified cities. This proved too much for most of them, who chose instead to believe the spies’ evil report: “Our enemies are too great and powerful, so there is no point in trying.” Their disappointment led to grumbling, which spread through the camp like a cancer and finally resulted in general discouragement. Their response to God’s purpose was:
“Where can we go up? Our brethren have discouraged our hearts, saying, ‘The people are greater and taller than we; the cities are great and fortified up to heaven; moreover we have seen the sons of the Anakim there.’” (Deuteronomy 1:28)
As a result, they didn’t “go up” into the land. They wandered through a vast wasteland until they were all dead. Because they doubted, because they feared, and because they allowed the report of others to discourage them, they lost confidence in God and His will — they gave up. This cannot be our end; we must resist the inclination to become discouraged even though we live in very discouraging times. We must continue to fight the battle and believe that He will bring victory.
I have often said that if we are close to the time Yeshua described as being unlike anything mankind has seen, “since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matthew 24:21), then there must be a people unlike anything the world has ever seen or will ever see. It would seem that we have been chosen to be that people, so we must fight the inclination to be discouraged. Perhaps that is the greatest giant to be conquered. We must prevail against the obstacles and fortifications that our King has called us to go against, even if they appear to be impenetrable. Furthermore, we must be careful to fight the battle in the way that He has determined.
The pressures of today’s world are provoking some to take action to do something — even if it’s wrong, in some cases. In other words, there are those among God’s people who are taking up the banner and war cry of groups and organizations that demand change for this reason or for that situation. While there are, indeed, noble causes to be supported, it is important that God’s people remember that we are not to be unequally yoked, even for what may seem to be the best of causes.
It is critical that we resist the pressure and expectations placed upon us by the world and by worldly Christians, lest we lose sight of our God-ordained mission to be salt and light. If we are to be light, we can not adopt the methods of darkness; there must be a distinct difference between the two. So let us be careful not to adopt the herd mentality that is sweeping through our nation, as we remember that the crowd who cries, “Hosanna!” today can become the mob that shouts, “Crucify Him!” tomorrow. If we are to fulfill our duty as salt and light, we must set our sites on the Author and Finisher of our faith, because He is the only constant in this world and the only source of Truth in a sea of lies. He is the One who will lead us into the land and into victory. Perhaps you are disappointed, but don’t become discouraged. Take to heart what was spoken to the generation who were destined to possess the land of promise:
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
Blessings and Shalom,
Bill & Beth