“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” so begins Charles Dickens historical novel A Tale of Two Cities. In fact, on this day in 1859 the final chapter was published in Dickens’ circular, “All the Year Round.”
The opening line has been often quoted to apply to our generation. It has been many years since I’ve read this classic, and had forgotten the next lines in the opening paragraph.
“It was the age of wisdom. It was the age of foolishness. It was the epoch of belief. It was the epoch of incredulity. It was the season of Light. It was the season of Darkness. It was the spring of hope. It was the winter of despair.”
Indeed Dickens’ description of 19th century England has many similarities to 21st century America. Depending on which side of the social, political, economic or spiritual spectrum you’re on, it’s either the best of times or the worst of times.
It reminds me of Solomon’s observation in Ecclesiastes that “there is nothing new under the sun” (Eccl. 1:10). In fact, this passage further sheds this light.
What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there anything of which one can say,
“Look! This is something new”?
It was here already, long ago;
it was here before our time.
Sure, we live an age of technological change, medical advancement and instant communication enhanced by social media. But the basic nature of human kind remains unchanged. We share the same basic fears, hopes and dreams as generations past.
In spite of all of our improvements in health, our loved ones still become sick and die. Regardless of the amount of money spent on social programs, there are people still in poverty. And more importantly, the number one problem people face is still the same. It’s the sin problem.
We live in a world of greed, pride and selfish ambition. Lust and licentiousness still dominate fleshly desires. And the problem of prejudice and partiality has not been eliminated.
Many wring their hands in despair and lament “What’s the world coming to?” Yet, a better question for Christians is “What’s coming to the world?” Or maybe “Who’s coming to the world?”
From the days of Noah to time of Christ, there have been bad times. Tough problems. Evil people. Yet, there has been good times. Godly solutions. And righteous people.
The problems of our age are nothing new. And the paradox of Dickens’ day continues. Wisdom and foolishness. Faith and skepticism. Light and darkness. Hope and despair. The challenge and contradiction between good and evil has continued since the garden of Eden.
The Good News is hidden from the eyes of the unbeliever and is too often forgotten by Christians. Jesus Christ is the answer to mankind’s deepest needs. He said, “I have come to give life–life in all its fullness” (Jn. 10:10). The way to the Divine nature is illuminated by His life. The guilt of sin is eradicated by His sinless blood shed on the cross. And the fear of death is diminished by His triumphant resurrection from the grave.
As Believers let’s not be dismayed by economic, political or social uncertainty. God is. Jesus lives. And our hope transcends this world.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman
One response to “The Paradox of Every Generation”
Excellent. Thank you, brother Ken.
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