Why We Must Remember to Rejoice in Discouraging Times
As a Christian it’s easy to become discouraged by the world around us. While most Americans still claim a Christian identity, you wouldn’t know it based on media reports. The press rarely mentions the existence of Christians, and when Christians are described or cited, it is typically in less than flattering terms.
For most of my young life, it seemed that Christians were viewed apathetically by the culture at large. Many seemed to think of Christians as harmless relics of a bygone age: weird, stuffy, but mostly forgettable. It used to upset me that Christianity was downplayed or marginalized by many in our society. Now, I almost nostalgically long for those times.
Christianity is increasingly treated with disdain in popular culture and the media. Christians are sometimes viewed as a menace, actively hurting society through an archaic, oppressive — even evil — belief system. Christianity, or at least the beliefs and principles it espouses, is now sometimes considered to be at the root of societal ills.
Even Greater Persecution
It can feel like a sad time to be a Christian. As I contemplate beginning a family of my own, I am sometimes fearful of what kind of world my children will encounter. If it was hard for people in my generation to hold onto their Christian faith, how much harder will it be for my children?
It is in moments like this that I realize I need to put things into context. Christian brothers and sisters are experiencing even greater persecution in other places in the world today. While there are certainly new challenges to face here at home, God’s people continue to flourish in foreign places where their faith is outlawed or where they exist as an extreme minority.
For encouragement, I often turn to passages such as Philippians 4:4-8:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
These words, written by Paul, have a nice ring to them, but I feel I’ve taken them for granted in the past. When you consider Paul’s world, the passage has much more power.
Trials and Tribulations
The trials and tribulations we face today, pale in comparison to those faced by Paul. Early Christians faced ostracization from every angle. To become a Christian was not only to face scorn or ridicule, but to risk losing relationships with family or to be killed for your beliefs. To be a Christian in those early days must have been terrifying. Can you imagine starting a Christian family under those circumstances? How much stress would you feel?
Yet, Paul says, “Rejoice”! He reminds Christians in his day not to be anxious about anything. If God is so good that Christians did not need to fear the harsh conditions of the early Church, then surely God is good enough to take care of His Church today.
Let’s work in whatever way we can to help grow the Kingdom in our time, but let’s remember that everything is in God’s hands. Let’s give our concerns over to the Lord and trust Him.
Originally published at coldcasechristianity.com. Republished with permission.