Several years ago a Missouri preacher, Steve Shepherd, related a story about a woman who was in the grips of severe depression.
She felt helpless. Hopeless. And afraid. For weeks she wept constantly. She didn’t want to be left alone for fear she would take her own life. When she went to bed, she hoped she would never wake up.
Her Bible Study class intervened and purposed what they called “The Brave Christian’s experiment.” In desperation, the woman decided to try this plan which basically called for God to be at the center of one’s life.
The plan consisted of these five steps.
(1) Spend a half-hour each morning in prayer and meditation (on scripture).
(2) Give God one-tenth of your earnings.
(3) Give God two hours of your time each week.
(4) Meet once a week to pray with others who are trying to do the same thing.
(5) Share your experiences with others.
The plan worked. The woman got better. And she overcame her depression.
“Any time we focus on the Lord, His Word, and spend time talking to Him and serving others, life will get better,” Shepherd observed.
In many ways, we live in discouraging and depressing times. Wicked men grow worse and worse. Crime runs rampant in the streets. Immorality is accepted, even applauded. Perversion is sanctioned by our government and approved by the elite and erudite of our day. Creationism is rejected. And the general theory of evolution is taught as a fact that educated people believe and backward religious fanatics don’t even understand.
Publically God is mocked. Jesus has been demoted to just a good man or moral reformer, but not the Son of God, or the only way to heaven. And the principles and precepts of God’s Word are ridiculed and belittled.
What’s a Christian to do?
I’m reminded of a quote by Paul Harvey who once opined, “In times like these it is helpful to remember that there have always been times like these.”
In the apostle Paul’s day, the Roman world was even more debased, degenerate, and depraved than our world today. Most of the Emperors were homosexuals. Some were pedophiles. Pagan idolatry with its attendant immoral sexual practices was the norm. A third of the world was enslaved. Women had no rights and were treated as a piece of property. It was a cruel, ruthless, and inhumane time in many respects.
Yet, Christianity was born into this culture. And not only thrived but flourished. The Thessalonian church was a living testament to the power of the gospel to turn people away from serving idols to serving God (1 Thess.1:2-10).
In the second letter, Paul reminds them of their conversion. How God called them through the Gospel. How they believed, embraced, and obeyed the Truth. How they stood for the divine apostolic traditions. And how they lived it their daily lives.
Now, in the midst of a culture of “unreasonable and wicked men,” who are faithless, Paul basically tells them two things: (1) Be patient. (2) Pray.
“The Lord is faithful,” Paul promises them. He will strengthen you. He will protect you. He will direct you. And His Word will “spread rapidly and be gloried.”
It’s easy to become consumed with the negative news and not realize how much good is being done in the world among Believers that will never be broadcast.
I read where one church last Sunday had 55 visitors to their Sunday morning service. Even during the Pandemic, there have been baptisms. Churches have added members. And ministry has continued.
I receive messages weekly of people obeying the gospel in the Philippines. In African countries. And India. I see pictures on facebook of dads baptizing their sons and daughters into Christ. I hear of young men who are deciding to preach the gospel of Christ. I know parents who are earnestly endeavoring to educate their children in the “discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). And I know preachers and pastors who are faithfully preaching the Word, shepherding the flock, and making a difference in countless lives throughout the world.
Instead of looking around at the world’s problems, or looking within feeling discouraged, let’s look upward. God-ward. Heaven-ward.
Be the light of the world. Be the salt of the earth. Be of good cheer. God’s cause is not lost. Victory is within our grasp.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman