This past year has been troubling. As our generation starts to become adults, we have been faced with some intense, eye-opening events. The world has been wracked with fear and many have lost their lives and loved ones during the Pandemic Outbreak of COVID-19. The young generation of Americans experienced a difficult time of awakening to the horrors of racial prejudice and felt the pulling tension of individuals clawing for change but not always having the power to implement it. As many of our generation start to get married and start careers and families, the only way we can make peace with our crumbling world is hope for change. The United States is a free Western country, right? Our Constitution gives common individuals the power to promote change in their communities, right? We are masters of our own destiny… right? But what happens when you’re faced with the fact that you cannot promote the change you want? What happens when you lose control of the trajectory of your surroundings? What are you left with?
Whether the social situation in the Unites States will ever get better or not is not the point. The point is that anybody anywhere who stakes their hope and peace of mind on the stability of their social and political surroundings is in for disappointment. Whether in the Bible or in your own life, we experience and are warned that those situations will always change, will always shift and will inevitably turn against the people of God. And we are warned against placing our peace of mind on the unpredictable stability of our surroundings.
The famous and proficient pastor and preacher Timothy Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, New York has been consistent in his encouragement of the global Church. His ministry to the people in the secular environment of New York and in his materials have addressed the questions of the Faith since he was ordained as a minister in 1975. Along with many other aspects of our chaotic world during the year 2020, Timothy Keller was also diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and is even now taking rounds of chemotherapy to beat it. Even in his current fighting state, he has published an article entitled “Growing My Faith in the Face of Death.” In it, he asks, “So when the certainty of your mortality and death finally breaks through, is there a way to face it without debilitating fear?”
Timothy Keller referenced Paul Brand, an orthopedic surgeon who spent many years practicing in India previously to working in America.
“In the United States…patients live at a greater comfort level than any I had previously treated, but they seem far less equipped to handle suffering and far more traumatized by it,” Brand said.
One explanation for this culture that avoids discomfort at all costs, is the hope our culture collectively puts on our stable social and political surroundings. If you believe you have in fact calmed the storm of this world around you with political stability and social comfort, then you will become accustomed to this baseline expectation of comfort and pleasantness. But that is not a true perspective of the world. Looking at any country or social opinion in history will show you the inevitable outcome: destabilization and dissension. Timothy Keller shared his similar experience.
“Since my diagnosis, Kathy and I have come to see that the more we tried to make a heaven out of this world—the more we grounded our comfort and security in it—the less we were able to enjoy it,” Keller said.
I would urge every person, Christian or Non-Christian, to examine what they base their peace of mine and their security in. If it is something as transient as your beauty, your ability or even your nation’s political stability, ask yourself what you would do if you suddenly lost it. It is human nature to place our hope in transient and dying things, but I urge you not to trust something so fragile, but to find something that will never die and that will never let you down. Our culture points some of those things out as family or “love,” but if you’ve ever lost a loved one or experienced a break-up you know that that is also a very transient thing. The only thing that will never collapse is the one person who proved He could live even after He was crucified and buried and who has the ultimate power over death and suffering. I urge you to place your peace of mind and your hope in Jesus and his ultimate defeat of all wrong, because there’s nothing that can stop Him. Our world may or may not get better, but if you place your hope in the one person who never changes and never fails, you won’t be shaken when your surroundings are.