This will be a tough article for some people to read. There will be a lot a negativity in it. That said I want you to know that it is possible to be happy, have low anxiety, have hope for the future and still be absolutely real about what can happen in this world and what can happen to you. I think living in denial and coping through ignorance is a dangerous thing. This article is about being real and empowered.
The Bible warns us that life in this world is altered by Sin and the Curse. Sin is every thought, word, action, inaction, polluted motive, resistance to God, or biological tendency toward any of these things that flows from rebellion against God. God’s law helps us to identify sin. But it exists without having the Law. Evil is the quality of hatred toward God at its root. Sin and evil produce many horrific and damaging behaviors in people and in any living thing.
The Curse is essentially God letting this universe be out of balance. By “out of balance” I mean that it does not operate as originally created. The result is illness, natural disaster, frustration, boredom and anything that is not the direct cause of sin but still not as designed.
Living in a world where there is Sin and Curse, we should not be surprised by personal tragedy, yet we almost universally are. Being surprised in this way is the result of not understanding the nature of the world or not taking it seriously enough. The danger is that being surprised can undermine faith in God, endanger our relationship with Him, endanger our connection to Jesus and eternal life. Beyond that it makes us susceptible to unnecessary amounts of grief and depression, violent reprisals that make the world worse, and more.
An example of not being prepared for sin are the many active shooter incidents that we see almost every day in the news. We had one here in Evansville just last week. The shooter was not coping with the sin he had in himself. He was further antagonized by sinful taunting. This led to the unacceptable result of going on a shooting rampage that left him dead.
For what do we need to be spiritually and emotionally prepared? First, we need to understand that our health and the health of people we love will decline. This is not a maybe. We are all heading toward death. Sometimes health setbacks will come in groups. Sometimes it will come in a major failure, like cancer. This doesn’t just happen to other people. It can happen to you. Something will happen to you.
Next expect curse related issues. Hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, these natural disasters can impact your life. Maybe you get away with never being touched, but you will hear of such things at the least.
Expect war, crime, even brutal crime, and poverty to a part of the world’s history. Once again, maybe it misses you or maybe not. It should disgust you. You should do what you can to protect yourself and help others, but it should not surprise you. Sinful people gathered in organizations or acting independently will produce such a result.
And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.Matthew 24:6-8 (ESV)
We should also expect a natural and supernatural resistance and even attacks against Christianity. This happens because everybody, including ourselves, has an inherited resistance to God that the Bible calls our sinful nature. This can be overcome, but it also can produce harsh reaction, even persecution. People may feel that they are reacting against you, or an institution, but they are reacting against God Himself. Don’t be surprised by it. When this happens, Jesus says,
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in Heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.Matthew 5:10-12 (ESV)
Revelation also informs us, that Satan and a sizable cohort was expelled from Heaven and hurled to Earth. Their sour grapes response is:
Then the dragon (Satan) became furious with the woman (The Jewish Nation) and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring (Jews), on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus (Christians).Revelation 12:17 (ESV)
I think this explains the persistent existence of antisemitism and persecution of Christians.
Can we be happy and relaxed in an environment like this without ignorance and denial? Yes. But I do find it difficult to know how to be happy without the certainty of eternal life that comes through Jesus and the knowledge that God will go with us through whatever unpleasantry we will face.
I am happy because I have eternal life and know that God is with me. My existence won’t always be menaced by the results of Sin, Satan and the Curse. I do expect challenges, I am hoping for modest ones, but I am set to understand the nature of very serious ones. They will be temporary. God will give me the strength to see past them. God will give me the word and actions to help my loved ones. Even tragedy will strengthen and shape me. It will provide opportunity to do the work of the Kingdom of God. And as such, I am at peace.