CLERGY CORNER: Living with hope in difficult times

Posted on 28 July 2016 by LeslieM

Our world is in chaos. Increasing violence both at home and abroad has many living in fear and anxiety. Terrorist attacks upon innocent people, conflict between police and citizens, political upheaval, racial and religious aggression, all of these are signs of the difficult times in which we live. Nature’s occasional display of destructive force, and the reality of climate change add to the apprehension that many feel.

The truth is that every generation has had challenges that seemed to signal the end of life and erosion of society as we know it. There have always been wars, conflict, aggression and violence. The only difference between now and earlier times is the speed at which information from around the world is delivered. The 24 hour news cycle and instantaneous social media coverage keep us hopping from one report of tragedy to the next.

Jesus predicted the increased awareness of trouble during the week before His crucifixion. And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows (Matt. 24:6-8). Even Paul, the apostle, forewarned of the perilous times that would come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God (2 Timothy 3:1-4).

In light of the predictions and realities of our present time, many have adopted a fatalistic view of the future and man’s hopes. Doomsday scenarios abound that see humanity devolving into a dystopian type of existence after some global tragedy caused by war, climate change, or computer malfunction (remember the Y2K hysteria?).

But it is possible and advisable to live life with hope concerning the future. Both Jesus and Paul gave encouragement following their predictions so that men could avoid giving in to despair but live with hope. The disciples were told to watch for these signs, and to make themselves ready for their Lord to return. Timothy was encouraged to continue in what he had learned, and to be faithful despite what would come.

We may not have the power to prevent others from thinking and doing evil things but we can control how each of us lives individually. Why not be true to each other and to God? Live honest and upright by treating each other with dignity, and having compassion on the less fortunate. Give room for differences of opinion and ideology while seeking to coexist peaceably. Why not strive to make yourself and the world around you better? I have noticed that even as war, tragedy, conflict and aggression has raged over the centuries, advancements and breakthrough have also occurred for the betterment of our existence.

Why not be part of the next great discovery, achievement, or invention? The world can always use another great thinker, leader or discoverer. We don’t all have to become victims of the perilous times in which we live.

The worst of times can indeed also be the best of times, if we decide to give our best to making the best of what we have. You can either be part of the good in life, or give yourself to that which is bad. It is my hope and my prayer that you will choose to be part of that which is good.

Bishop Patrick L. Kelly is the pastor of Cathedral Church of God, 365 S. Dixie Hwy., Deerfield Beach, FL 33441. 954-427-0302.

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