Responding to the Troubled Times

By Gregg Cudworth Posted: June 24, 2013 You don’t have to be a Christian to be shaking your head because you are worried about the times. People on both sides of the cross are at best perplexed over the condition of the world. If you aren’t concerned you are either part of the problem or you are living with your head in the sand. It is obvious to anyone who has stopped to look and listen at the rail crossing of life, things are getting worse and not much of anything is getting better. The crossing guard is down, the bells are ringing, the lights are flashing, the train is coming, and we are standing in the middle of the tracks. What is, and how bad is the current situation? Government is corrupt top to bottom. The culture is no longer in moral decay; it is rotten to the core. Our children are no longer being educated in the schools; it is all about indoctrination with no attention paid to the 3 R’s. Media and entertainment are vial, violent, and vicious. Main stream religion has lost its way. Secular humanism is the dominate worldview. Is all of this having a negative affect on us; polling says yes? The public sentiment is one of despair and hopelessness. But what about us Christians, aren’t we supposed to be filled with joy and contentment in all situations? Aren’t we to put on a happy face in spite of the troubled times? Isn’t it un-biblical to be saddened by the things of this world? Just how are we to respond as believers in Christ when there seems to be no hope? Scripture is full of verses giving us assurances of hope in the next life as we cling to Christ and HIs promise of salvation. This hope is to be our inner spiritual response; but how are we to respond outwardly to world when we are mired in despair and the worldly seems to be doing so well at our expense? My fist inclination is disgust, maybe even the desire to get vengeance because of the wrongs the world has done to me and others. In my heart I know this is not right, this is not what Jesus would want me to do. So, where do I turn and what do I do? There is a hidden gem of wisdom which

corrects the temptation of wishing evil on my enemies found in Psalm 119:139 My zeal consumes me; because my foes forget your words, ESV. The Psalmist has come to the realization of the greater sin, which was not against him but against God. The greater sin was the putting of God on the back burner of their lives. They were unmindful of the lesson found in God’s Word. What appeared to be grievous transgressions against him was in reality the destruction of their souls because they were enemies in opposition to God. The Psalmist knew it wasn’t his rightful place to desire or enact vengeance on them. He knew God had given him a higher calling. So what we see is a tone of both joy and great sadness in his heart. On the one hand he has gained a victory because he has God’s word and has learned how to respond to the world. But on the other hand he has a great sadness for his foes because they have forgotten the Word of God and have become God’s enemy. His point is we should be more grieved because others breach God’s word than because they have wounded us; this is when our concern is turned from ourselves, and culminates on honoring God and His law. The question for us is do we cry out to God and beg for mercy for those who are condemned, or do we cry for vengeance and harm to come to our enemies? John Calvin in his commentary on the Psalms explains the righteous sorrow we should seek as he writes, “The Psalmist speaks of his persecutors, by whom it is certain he had been subjected to much trouble. But although they were virulent and cruel towards him, he avows that it was not so much his own private wrongs which offended him as the violation of God's law; yea rather, that he was so consumed with grief on that account as not to be affected at all with his own individual troubles. This is an example from which much profit may be derived. We are too tender and delicate in bearing wrongs; and hence it is that if we are but touched with a finger, we are instantly inflamed with anger, whilst at the same time we are but coldly affected at the most grievous offenses committed against God. But if we are animated with the zeal that inspired the Prophet it will carry us away to another kind of sorrow, which will take entire possession of our souls.” The sorrow he is addressing here is the great distress for the lost and condemned. A long time ago a pastor friend made this verse simple to understand but hard to live by when he said, “You can’t continue to hate someone whom you continually pray for.” If you find yourself in the middle of the tracks try praying for your enemies, you may find yourself a new friend and by God’s grace a new brother or sister in Christ.