|Picture by Penny Juncker|
Listening this morning to Arlo Guthrie and Jim Wilson’s new version of “Hard Times Come Again No More.” I began to understand some of the vitriol, conspiracy mania, and slander heaped upon many public officials and the medical professions. And here I am thinking of people I know, people I am close to, who are not usually inclined to vent so ardently against others. I know there are those who purposely and with evil intent invent outlandish tales of conspiracy against others, but these are not the people that have initiated my concern. I am Reformed after all and “What is the matter with you people” is my byword as long as it includes myself.
But watching the depression photographs in the video I realized so many have no memory of those hard times or of the devastating losses of World War II. And if they are not particularly interested in history they will not have absorbed the pain and sorrow of that time or any other time for that matter. It seems to me, we Americans, at least in the last few decades, insist on everything turning out rosy. We build our hopes on Shangri-La and reach for idealistic dreams. Added to this sense of optimism is a belief that it is possible to know the exact reason why something has happened and the way it has happened and thus to swiftly end any intruding evil.
For instance, some insist that covid-19 occurred because a person or a group or an organization manufactured it as a means of destroying enemy’s lives. Or, so many people have died because politicians, or/and medical groups or/and a particular political party are lying about the cure. Or, it’s a lie that so many people have died, with multiple explanations for the lie.
The real truth gets lost in our rejection of truth—we are suffering—more suffering is ahead of us—we must gather strength and hope from somewhere beyond answers that are materialistic, conspiratorial and slanderous. The truthful answer will not be to dissuade or dispose of enemies who are supposedly seeking our harm. The truthful answer will not be to ignore the mandates of safety for this particular moment in our history. The truthful answer is—we are suffering—God help us!
Recently a friend suggested I watch a movie about Lilias Trotter a 19th century artist and missionary to Algeria. In the movie, “Many Beautiful Things” Trotter’s potential to become a famous artist is sacrificed for the sake of following Christ to North Africa. One of her beautiful statements is:
Measure thy life by loss not by gain, not by the wine drunk but by the wine poured forth for love’s strength standeth in love’s sacrifices.
The life God calls us to, in the midst of pandemic, brutal riots and police brutality, aims us straight into His love. His intention is to pour, through us, His love out upon the worlds we inhabit. Our time, this day, this year, the years to come, are times to draw near to Jesus, to think on His cross, to rest in his love, to walk in his love.
If we have lost, in these hard times, faith in humanity—good—now we will have a deeper faith in Jesus. We will cling to the brother and sister who in their weakness and humility still holds to Jesus. We will find in Jesus the government, the kingdom, the joy, that this time, this place cannot give.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been destressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1: 3-9)