There is no question that we live in difficult and discouraging times. There seems to be a dearth of leadership in the church, and in the United States in general, which is disheartening. Many of us ask, “Where are the fearless leaders of old?” As Christians, we long for a order in a world of chaos.
I never thought I would be so suspicious and skeptical of institutional leadership. For example, I love the United States of America, am proud of it, and thankful to God that I was blessed to be born in this country. With the blessings of liberty and freedom in such a great land, the responsibilities of citizenship on my part are great, as in electing the leadership of those I wish to rule. The trouble comes when those leaders forsake their elected roles and responsibilities. This is no uncommon phenomenon in the United States, or anywhere else for that matter.
How are we to reconcile with these difficult realities? How do we see the perfect will and mighty hand of God in such a dark world, a world where we find ourselves leaderless? I hope to provide a helpful way to think about these questions in this article.
1.) The Testimony of Scripture
Since the Fall, the world has been marred by sin and corruption. In Genesis chp. 1, God created the world ex nihilo, out of nothing; but he did more than that, he brought order into chaos. When Satan tempted Eve, and when Adam and Eve capitulated, chaos was brought back into the world. The chaos that comes from the Fall is the world we know today: dark, marred by sin, the presence of death (spiritual and physical), etc.
Chaos is apart of our every day human lives. This is apparent every time you turn on the news and witness the latest national tragedy, political scandal, ecclesiastical scandal, and so many others that you are left numb. I was once given advice from a ruling elder I love to not get caught up in controversy. He reminded me of something I lacked, and still struggle with: My youth is a time to grow in grace, not revel in controversy. I should trust the church’s leadership to handle controversies. To be honest, I’m glad I followed that advice, though imperfectly. Reveling in controversy often makes one hard-hearted, and always suspicious. That’s not to say that we should overlook untrustworthy folk, it simply means we should be slow to anger, gracious and firm.
Also, reveling in controversy is wearying. Christ reminds us in Matthew 11:18 that all who are weary and heavy-laden ought to come to him and find rest. What does this mean? Simply put, that which worries you most, which is most burdensome, which causes you anxiety should be cast on him. One cannot bear the problems of the world alone, only Christ can do that. While we are not immune from the burdens of this world, we are told to lean on Christ as our rest. Such sweet truths ought to bring to us a peace of mind, and remind us of Paul’s exhortation to Timothy that God did not give us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and self-control (2 Tim. 1:7). The power, love, and self-control Paul refers to are themselves fruits of the Spirit, or at least love and self-control are (Gal. 5:22-23). God has given us much to lean on in these troubled times.
2.) The Sovereignty of God
I recently related to someone over the phone that if I did not believe in the sovereignty of God, I am not sure how I would get on in this world as it is today. In chapter 5, the Westminster Confession teaches of God’s providence that God is the “great Creator of all things doth uphold, (Hbr 1:3); direct, dispose, and govern all creatures, actions, and things, (Dan 4:34-35; Psa 135:6; Act 17:25-28; Job 38-41); from the greatest even to the least, (Mat 10:29-31); by His most wise and holy providence, (Pro 15:3; Psa 104:24; Psa 145:17); according to His infallible fore-knowledge, (Act 15:8; Psa 94:8-11); and the free and immutable counsel of His own will, (Eph 1:11; Psa 33:10-11); to the praise of the glory of His wisdom, power, justice, goodness, and mercy, (Isa 63:14; Eph 3:10; Rom 9:17; Gen 45:7; Psa 145:7).”
The same God that created all things, upholds, directs, disposes, and governs all things is the same God that is in control over all the affairs of this world. There is nothing that escapes his purview. Many Arminians would disagree, believing that Calvinists believe in a sort of prison, in which God is the warden. But that is not how Calvinists view God’s providential control. Quite the contrary, it is quite freeing and gives more joy to know that the mass of finite weights, let alone the infinite decision around salvation, does not fall upon me. Certainly we endure trials and tribulations, but they are only for a little while (1 Pet. 1:6). At that, God does not leave us on our own, always upholding us with his mighty right hand (1 Cor. 10:13; Is. 41:10).
The hope of the Christian is that one need not fear the trials and tribulations in your life, nor does he need to fear the chaos we see in the news or social media. We cast our fears and anxieties on Christ, and lay our weary and heavy-laden souls on the bosom of our blessed Savior.
3.) Final Thoughts
Dear Christian, it is very easy to be discouraged in our interesting times. But praise be to God this is not our final home. Our hope rests in the promise that when Christ comes for his people that he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more mourning, sorrow, or pain; the former things will have passed away. Christ will make all things new (Rev. 21:4-5). And praise be to God for that!
In the end of days, Christ promises that his elect will be avenged, that every wrong will be made right. But we must also remember Jesus’ exhortation in Lk 18, “when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” Let it not be said of you, “Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?” Have faith in Christ, dear Christian!