A theme of a recent post-election church service was the need to maintain our optimism in the face of adversity. What was the basis for that hope? It was this: God is in control, our nation has divine origins, devout Christians will pray our nation back to Godliness, He will bless our nation, and everything will be OK. That is optimism. It is also somewhat presumptuous and misleading.
Yes, God is in control, as He was in control of the fate of Israel as it was overrun by pagan nations a number of times throughout the past millennia.
Yes, our nation has divine origins, as attested by many of her earliest explorers and founders, just as many prophets and ancient historians of Israel have declared of Israel’s divine origins. The diminishing remnant of faithful Christians in America will pray and bargain with God to save our nation, just as the faithful remnant of Sodom bargained with God not to destroy that rebellious and forsaken place.
There were times Israel was blessed; there were times Israel was overrun. There was a time when Sodom prospered, and a time when Sodom was destroyed. Blessing occurred when the people and leaders of these places were faithful to God. Defeat and destruction occurred when the people and leaders turned their back on God.
These changes did not occur overnight or even in just a few years. Decline occurred and occurs over decades and generations. Misery and bondage most often remains just as long. Recovery and renewed prosperity often take additional decades if it occurs at all.
The United States has been in the grip of spiritual and moral decline for more than a half century. Legalized abortion, removal of prayer from schools and public places, the mocking of Christians, the acceptance and glorification of homosexuality and gay marriage, rampant pornography, and the liberalization of most churches into social and entertainment centers attest to this decline. The Word of God has lost it’s authority and respect in most denominations. Academia is entrenched in promoting the doctrine that government is more important than God or Godliness. These Godless centers of indoctrination are cranking out tens of thousands of like minded promoters of Godlessness every year. Nearly a majority of our citizens now rely on government for “free stuff” to the same extent as Americans relied on God just two generations ago. Government has replaced God.
Is God in control? Yes He is. But God is not mocked. Nor is His timing our timing. God is patient. He has all the time in the world to allow evil and rebellion against Him to run its course. The Godless and lukewarm will not turn around back toward Him tomorrow or next week or next year. Things have not gotten nearly dire enough to get the attention of most people. Our evil has not run its course. God has a history of letting people and nations stew awhile in their own rebellious desires before He is ready to restore blessings. Many hope for a Third Great Awakening any moment. But we are much further gone into rebellion than we were prior to the First and Second. Godliness has become institutionalized and ingrained into our government and culture like never before. Hey, a majority just elected a president who prefers Islam over Christianity in a party who by voice vote voted to reject the word “God” in its platform.
On a positive note about this election: It is a good thing that a good man was not elected president before the people of this nation are ready to turn around. I would hate to see the momentum toward national destruction destroy the reputation and spirit of a good man. God allows the people to be led by the leaders they deserve. And right now, the majority deserve what they got.
We are a long way from a Third Great Awakening and God’s blessing on our nation. Faithful Christians are now a remnant, a minority. Hard times are coming that will test our faithfulness. Mocking, persecution, censure, and legal actions will be brought against our attempts to influence the culture and our government. But that is also part of God’s plan for us. That is part of His culling process. That has been His method in the past and there is no reason to expect that His methods have changed.
Now is NOT the time to believe we have easy solutions and a rosy path forward to reclaiming America. To the contrary, things will get tougher. Our faith and our actions must match the challenge. This requires that we all seek God, ask for his mercy and protection for ourselves and other like believers. We need to seek stronger faith and greater resolve to endure and engage in the fight before we can effectively influence others.
That, for whatever it is worth, is REALISTIC optimism.