Conservative Christians have every reason to be down and pessimistic, but I need to confess something—I have this nagging sense of optimism that just won’t go away.
It’s not that I don’t appreciate the reasons for the sense of gloom and doom. Every day the media is filled with stories that can provoke those feelings. However, I won’t take my allotment of words in this space to recount those stories; I’d rather tell you why optimism keeps nagging at me.
The simple answer is because the Word of God won’t let me come to any other conclusion.
Is God Pleased With What’s Going On?
Before you say “no” to that question, consider Psalm 115:3. However, to appreciate that verse you have to read the preceding verse. It’s like the statements I hear and read periodically in connection with the work I do: “Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is now their God?”
Can you hear the taunt now? Today it might be said this way: “You Christians lost! There is no God to save you or to stand in our way. We’re moving on and, if you get in the way, we’re running over you.”
That’s why I get excited about verse 3. It begins with “but,” a wonderful, hope-infusing, “but!”
“But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases.”
In other words, what is going on in our country and in our world is pleasing to God in one sense, an ultimate sense—the only sense in which things really matter. His purposes are being accomplished.
If nothing is outside the sovereignty of God, and nothing is, and if God does what He pleases, then I have reason to hope. As Nebuchadnezzar said, “He does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand or say to Him, “What have You done?
And if the Word of God is true, and it is, then I also know that God’s purposes cannot be anything other than good and right and just.
Is The Bad Stuff Not Really Bad?
But what about all the bad stuff that is currently going on? Am I just some blind, optimistic fool? Great question!
What’s going on right now is bad; our very form of government is being dismantled by the Supreme Court and corrupt politicians. But I realized I needed to step back and look at the overarching story Scripture tells from the 30,000 foot level.
When I did that, I realized that God often takes what is good at some point in history and then alters it or even tears it down in order to bring out of that which was good something even better. Let me give you just two examples.
God gave the pattern for the tabernacle to mirror a heavenly reality, and then God came down and His glory settled upon it. Incredible. God eventually did away with it, but He brought forth something more glorious, the Temple, where His glory again descended. And then He destroys the Temple, which was horrifying to those accustomed to the structures and systems of that day, to do something even more incredible; He takes up residence in those who believe in Him!
God gave the law. And as Moses said in Deuteronomy 4:7, even the Gentiles would look at the law and say, “What great nation is there that has statutes and judgments as righteous as the whole law” of Moses? Yet, God brings about something new that leaves the New Testament writers saying that, in comparison, the law of Moses was “weak” and “obsolete.”
Is God Doing a New Thing?
Could that be what God is doing now? Is He tearing down some things, as unpleasant and hard now as that may be for us to live through, in order to raise up something new and better?
By trying to “go back” and “hold on” to what is familiar and has certainly been good, could we be making an idol out of the past ways and structures that may no longer really fit that new thing that God wants to do as He moves toward His desired purpose?
I don’t know, but my reason for hope is not in what I see going on around me but in Him who sees all that is going on around me . . . and is pleased. What a pleasant thought.
David Fowler served in the Tennessee state Senate for 12 years before joining FACT as President in 2006. Read David’s complete bio.
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