Despair, Outrage, or Something Else?

In the last couple of weeks there has been enough bad news to test the strongest emotional fortitude. There have been appalling assaults on law enforcers, heartbreaking examples of societal dysfunction, and more disastrous terrorist attacks… These are perilous times to be sure.

In the midst of all this, there is no shortage of voices calling for an extreme response. From my perspective, there are really two options presented with great frequency and volume.

On one hand, we may feel angry and defensive, and thus react with outrage. Such outrage is mostly verbal, and often quite ambiguous, but lashing out in some way seems to be a primary response on the part of many.

On the other hand, we may feel alone and fearful, and thus withdraw in despair. The world we thought we knew has become unfamiliar and too scary. Many people are feeling as though these days are the worst of all human history, and they are drawing back from the world.

And yet, we may turn to Scripture for a rebuke of both responses. Peter, writing to persecuted and exiled Christians, said, “[Have] unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and [humility]. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing” (1Pet3.8-9).

In this we may hear a charge to engage the world around us and a call to do so with humble sobriety. We are neither to separate ourselves from the world, nor to scream out in rage as we walk through it. We must not seek an earthly refuge away from the perils of life, nor depend on earthly powers of political, economic, or social force to minimize those perils.

We do not get to choose the period of history in which we live, but we do have the same opportunity that all other saints have had before us. We have received blessing and grace from God above, and we may now offer blessing and hope to those around us who are now overwhelmed with fear and fury.

Our hope is not that this world will one day become safer or more comfortable for us! Our hope is that this world will one day be remade and so shall all those who love and trust the Savior of guilty sinners like us! Our hope is that one day the King of glory will break open the sky and bring perfect justice and perfect peace! Our hope is that this same King is at work among His people even now to bring about His glorious ends, and we are participants in the greatest story of all time.

May God bring us comfort when we are falling into despair. May He give us wisdom when we are angered by the sinful actions of others. And may God grant His grace to many more sinners as He hastens the day of Christ’s return.

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