Over the last 20 years I have heard (and probably said) time and time again - What is this world coming to? It seems to us that the depravity, poverty, subjugation and hopelessness in the world is just too overwhelming. Surely things have never been this bad. Surely it is the beginning of the end of the world as we know it - it can't get any worse than this.
When we really stop to think about it, however, it only takes a few page flips in a history book to wake us up to the reality that, yes, things can get worse, and often have been worse in ages past. I am pretty sure the people in the Dark Ages, Medieval Times, and even more recently in the World War II era, thought things couldn't get any worse for humankind than what they were experiencing.
The difference for us now, it seems, boils down to one thing - expectation. We, here in 21st Century America, expect more out of our lives than any group of people in the world, at any point in history. Furthermore, our life expectancy is longer than any other period to date, and we naturally expect all our years to be of good quality. We not only want to have the basic necessities of life: food, shelter and clothing; we also want abundant happiness and prosperity to go along with it.
There is nothing innately wrong with wanting to be happy and wishing our lives to be more than just work and sacrifice. The problem lies in expecting more than is realistically possible, this sets the stage for disappointment. Defining realistically possible is often the hardest part when it comes to meeting expectations. What we can expect out of life, while staying within the boundaries of what we alone can realistically provide for ourselves in the way of happiness, to me seems self limiting. Who do we rely on to provide that extra measure of joy and happiness that we are unable to give to ourselves?
Throughout the ages there has been a constant force that has given hope, promise, and joy to the masses and that is faith. Different people cling to different beliefs and have faith in different religions, gods, etc. My choice, my faith, is in God through Jesus - Christianity. My faith has been the one thing that has always been stable and reliable. Through all the highs, lows, twists and turns of life, my God's promise of hope has shined through. There were times when my faith was barely a glimmer, but the light was still there.
I really hold dear the thought of being connected with all people who cling to the same promise, the same faith in Jesus. All throughout time, there have been people who have encountered obstacles much more difficult than any that I, or my contemporaries, will ever face in our lifetimes, and yet, they felt the same hope in eternity as I feel today. It makes me feel not only a connection to all Christians who have gone before me, but also bolsters, knowing that faith can overcome the restrictions of life.
I pray there is never a time when all hope seems lost to us as Christians. What a tragedy that would be. We need to remember we are not alone. We not only have one another to stand with, but also all the many, many people who have trusted the same God as we over the years. He has stood the test of time, so we should always place our hope in his promise.
Lamentations 3:21-22 (New International Version)
21 Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
22Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
Psalm 31:24 (New International Version)
24 Be strong and take heart,
all you who hope in the LORD.
Ephesians 2:4-9 (New International Version)
4But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast.