Into these days, Christians should speak truth. These are days for determining what it means to stand with brothers and sisters in Christ first (Gal. 6:10) and our culture of comforts second. To borrow a thought from Carl F. H. Henry, our consciences should remain uneasy, and not content, as we carry out this confronting work.
Yet, even Henry, seventy years ago in The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism, called evangelicals to lament the downgrade of society, he thought they should do so with a smile: “The message for a decadent modern civilization must ring with the present tense. We must confront the world now with an ethics to make it tremble, and with a dynamic to give it hope.”
We live in dark and uncertain days. Mr. Shakespeare’s literary reset button does not exist. Yes, the world is wrong side up, and our hearts naturally along with it. But, as we lament these things, we should also call this to mind: God has not changed, and His mercies are still new every morning, even as we await our Blessed Hope, the Lord Jesus, who gave Himself to redeem us (Titus 2:13–14). Believers in Christ uniquely and always have this message to share.
Belief, trust, and even hope in the unseen dwell at the core of the Christian life, as Hebrews 11:1 reminds us: “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” First Corinthians 13:12 adds: “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” First John 3:2 says, “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.”
Even though we cannot now see God, we know He indwells our hearts, and He has given us a fountain of living hope through His Word and Spirit. Within us, He is our “hope of glory” (Col. 1:27), and within us resides “Christ Jesus our hope” (1 Tim. 1:1).
John Bunyan, in his dreamy allegory of the Christian life, The Pilgrim’s Progress, introduces a character named Hopeful to aid Christian on his journey “from this world to that which is to come.” Hopeful proved a worthy and helpful companion to Christian. As they neared the end of the journey and faced crossing a deep river in order to enter the gate to the Celestial City, Christian began to despair, and as they waded in, he began to sink. At that moment, Hopeful provided the encouragement that pulled Christian across the finish line: “Be of good cheer, my brother, I feel the bottom, and it is good.”
So, as we find ourselves asking in these days of cultural disintegration, “Is all this a dream?” we need to smile more as we say: “No, it is far worse . . . and better. For there is a Hope that has found the bottom, and He is good.”