We are living in unsettling times. We are told our economy is doing well, and many indicators point to a strong economy. Yet, most people recognize that although the economy is doing well, the benefits are not evenly distributed as they had been in the past. Many in the middle class of America are struggling from week to week and have a lot of anxiety concerning their future. Informed people are leery of the new monetary approach taken by the central banks to spend year-by-year with easy money policies, and wonder how long it can last. Add the uncertainty of terrorism, and you only confound the concern. Could an extreme terrorist attack not only wreak havoc on its victims, but also send our fragile recovery into a tailspin?
The international scene has not fully aligned itself since the fall of communism. Add to that the struggles of the Middle East, with the fall of the former stable dictatorships, the constant religious battles between Shia and Sunni Muslims, and all their animosity to the Jewish state…it seems the world is a powder keg. Even in Asia, there is an intense confrontation with China seeking to extend its influence, both economically and militarily, through the Southern regions of its borders. South America is unstable because of the economic struggles, and Central America is wracked with violence as a result of gangs and drug trade. There are few places in the world one could go to find true peace.
As the nations of the earth gather for the Olympics in Brazil, focus is on a virus called Zika. This virus has been proven to bring deformities to children who are growing in infected mothers. The virus has recently spread to southern Florida. Florida officials are scurrying about calling for action, and not just because of the related health issues. The whole state is dependent on tourism; if tourists are scared off, dire things could come upon the state economy.
Next, we add to the uncertainty with an election year. All the politicians will be debating and accusing one another for the problems. Election years can have a polarizing impact on the country. This is especially true in today’s environment, where people do not just debate issues. They question each other’s personal motivations, and call into question their integrity. This only inflames the passions of the differing groups and fear becomes a major part of the debate. Fear is not a good ingredient in making positive strategies through clear and rational planning. Animosity does not make a good environment for negotiations either. In a democracy, people have to come together to actually make things happen. This requires a willingness to compromise and consider the concerns of others.
As a Pastor and Christian, I see this as a wonderful opportunity to declare and demonstrate the message of Jesus Christ. Truly, as never before, the world needs the “Prince of Peace!” Before Christians can be the voice of Jesus Christ, we must be a people of peace. This is only possible in the midst of the present distress, if we heed the words and understanding of the Psalmist. We must know that our God reigns in every situation! Our role is not about self-defense, but proclamation of the reign of God. We do not have to defend ourselves when we have God as a refuge!
Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. (Psalms 46:10-11)