How does remembering the past embolden us for living in the present?
First of all, as we are getting ready to celebrate the 238th year of America’s birthday, it a good time to remember all our nation was founded on, the sacrifices made to keep her free and the calling we have as Christians, as a free people, to honor God and represent Him well to the current living generations.
Second, it helps to remember the sovereignty of God and all He has promised to His people, His children, through the ages. He WILL make His name known among the nations (Psalm 46:10) even when it seems other wise. The givens of the serious concerns and troubles awakened by what is escalating in our current culture both at home and globally can be mentally debilitating. The moral decay, the violence, the dysfunction of individual and corporate societies, the abandonment of an honoring and following of God are evidenced daily.
The stories and pictures of what is going on in the Middle East- the evil perpetrated by one sect upon another in Iraq, the murder of 3 innocent teenagers in Israel, the plight of the refugees in Syria and right in our own country the fate and curious origin of thousands of children crossing the border in Texas creating a huge, unasked for burden for their care – are hugely disrupting and visually painful.
How does one handle this? What can be done? Live in denial, become an activist, bury my head like an ostrich and pretend it does not personally impact me and go on with life?
While there are no simple, formulaic answers to these questions we can learn from the examples of others and how they have handled the disruption of their society. Reflecting on the lives of those who have gone before are instructive to us in 2014. How they faced their challenges offer principles to live by now.
In a small Old Testament book, Micah stressed that God hates idolatry, injustice, rebellion and empty ritualism, but delights in pardoning the penitent. Micah’s resolve in 7:7, “ He has showed you, O man what is good. And what does the Lord requires of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
In another small Old Testament book, Habakkuk prophesying in times of crisis, states his resolve that though doom is coming “ yet, I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.”
The amazing lives chronicled in Hebrews 11 highlight their faith in the midst of each of their crises revealing their choices to trust God no matter what.
AND, for further reading on lessons gleaned from the saints and how they lived their lives- Water From a Deep Well, Christian Spirituality From the Early Christian Martyrs to Modern Missionaries by Gerald L. Sittser. It gives a good grasp on the working of God’s Spirit throughout Christendom through figures and how these individuals handled the challenges of their times. It will encourage you to keep going.
This family of faith Sittser writes about are ones we will meet in heaven from generations before us. We aren’t the first, nor are we the only generation who wanted desperately to know and to make Jesus known in the midst of their culture.
Lastly, we can resolve to live with the priorities Micah delineated, to trust God in the midst of the disruptions as Habakkuk did and to walk by faith as the Hebrews 11 saints did when all seems overwhelming and as if evil is winning. And pray, pray, pray without ceasing for revival in our land.
“The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord is enthroned forever.” Psalm 29:10
“But now,Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.” Psalm 39:7