Just when it felt like life might return to normal, my state’s governor took measures to close down churches and businesses, again. This week, I felt the anxiety and discouragement wash over me. I don’t think that I have ever been so concerned for my community or the future of my country. Uncertainty seems to be the only thing that is certain, these days. More and more I see how these crazy times are a meter of faith. My anxiety reveals my misplaced trust. Bad economic news puts a knot in my stomach: I am trusting in a good economy to provide for my present and future needs. I see the violence and unrest in the country, and I worry about the outcome of the next election. Have I placed my hope for happiness in the future of the United States of America, instead of in my Savior? All of the uncertainty should point me to the One who is certain. These times remind me of the only source of real hope and peace.
“Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.”
As I looked to the Scriptures for reinforcement, I came across 1 Timothy 6:17: “As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.” That phrase, “the uncertainty of riches” grabbed my attention. I realized that the current situation isn’t actually more uncertain than any other time. We who are rich in this present age, Americans and almost anyone else who is able to read this blog, allow ourselves to place hope and trust in the strength of our country, the wealth of our national economy, our jobs, and our account balances.
Without realizing it, we trust in so many things other than God. So, when economic trials come, and there is political and social unrest, we become nervous and frightened. But all of these things we trust in, based on our brief life experience, can be taken away at any time. When it comes to this earthly life, there are no times of certainty. Trials will wash away everything we trust in that isn’t built on the eternal foundation of Jesus Christ. God will show us the vanity of our misplaced trust and the true state of our souls.
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
I love my country, and the events of this year have been frightening and disheartening. But my hope cannot be in America. Nations rise and fall. It would be terrible to witness the collapse of the country I love, but I know that I could bear it because it is not the foundation of my ultimate hope. I am not opposed to taking action and fighting to keep alive the freedom and traditions of this nation. Yet, as a follower of Christ, I know this must be done with perspective and balance.
America has been a land of hope to millions, over the past few centuries, but that is the kind of hope that is only for this earthly lifetime. This nation does not provide eternal hope. The life and freedom found here are fleeting; they cannot save a man’s soul. Our hope should be firmly established in our primary citizenship. We who believe must remember that we are, first and foremost, citizens of heaven. We should look forward, like Abraham, to “the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.” (Hebrews 11:10)
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the testing of your faith – more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 1:6-7
For most of us, the effects of everything that has happened have only been on our freedom and our livelihoods. Our flesh has not been touched. It is true that some are sick and some have died. More people will be affected as time goes on. But in America, we are not hungry, and we are not desperate for our very survival. There are places in the world where life has gone from difficult to desperate, and we should not forget how well off we still are, even in the midst of this pandemic. We all want life to go back to normal. Perhaps our real problem is that we believe in normal. We let ourselves think there is certainty in this earthly life. Normal is bad if we allow ourselves to be rocked to spiritual sleep by the comfort of our lives.
I want to come out of this crazy period of history having learned that there is no such thing as normal life or certain times, but trusting that God is all the certainty I need. I pray “. . .that the tested genuineness of [my] faith – more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” My hope in Jesus Christ is “a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul.” (Hebrews 6:19)