Glenn and I have been pretty bleak the last couple of months whenever we’ve taken to thinking about the state of the world. I don’t know about you but I go through seasons where all I see is brokenness – Isis, xenophobic attacks, corrupt politicians, broken homes, diseases such as Parkinson’s, reading a 2010 statistic declaring 28% of children grow up without fathers, men buying children for sex . . . It can get a bit depressing!
The trouble with focusing on large scale events and situations is that you end up feeling helpless. “What can I do?” “Will there be an end to it?” and “How could this possibly get better?” are all questions that commonly go through my head. My usual response is to pray, and I believe this is the right one. God wants us to partner with Him in His work and prayer is the number one way we can do this. Yet even in prayer, a lot of time we’re left trusting to God’s purposes, not being able to see them clearly.
Last night Glenn and I made time to pray for South Africa again and we were blessed with a message of hope and a challenge to act.
The message of hope came from a passage in Haggai 2.
Firstly, we received hope in God’s unseen purposes in the midst of worldly evil:
Hag 2:6-9 For thus says the LORD of hosts: Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the LORD of hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, declares the LORD of hosts. The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the LORD of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the LORD of hosts.'”
You see, it is when worldly idols fail us and our lives or futures are put at risk that we turn to God. It is when we lose our earthly comforts and security that we fall on our knees before the eternal throne. One place that we see this in that Muslims are converting to Christianity due to what they’re seeing from Isis [see article here]. God is concerned with the salvation of all people (the treasures of all nations) and this is to be our focus too.
We also received hope from the call to courage in the verses above:
Hag 2:4-5 Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, declares the LORD. Be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the LORD. Work, for I am with you, declares the LORD of hosts, according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not.
Three times God gives the call to “be strong” whilst they wait for the full glory of His house (which never did return to the physical temple of Jerusalem, and refers to the glory for His spiritual temple. What is the spiritual temple? The body of Christ as we read in 2 Cor 6:16). And if the call for strength is not enough to reassure and give courage, He commands them not to fear because His Spirit remains with them. Today we have His Spirit in us. We have no need to fear. We can walk boldly in the midst of this world’s darkness, knowing that we have an eternal, heavenly home.
So then, what do we do in response to what we’re seeing?
God has been challenging me for the last five months that it must start at home. The first place that we must seek to bring His Kingdom to earth is at home. Some examples:
- I preach the need for sustainability in East Africa, but do I practice it at home? Glenn and I have started our own vegetable patch and are keeping chickens for eggs with a desire to increase our efforts at household sustainability.
- We are praying for South Africans to lay down their prejudices, bitterness over past hurt, and division based on race or nationality. Our practical application is to check our own hearts and ensure that we are not holding on to hurts we have received, and that we build bridges between races, nationalities, cultures, generations, etc here in our local area.
- I cry over the brokenness existing in the family unit, but I need to make sure that I go to Glenn and talk with him whenever an issue arises between us. I must practice the love of 1 Cor 13 within my own home.
- We know the need for fellowship, and so we need to lead by example and make sure we’re making regular time to fellowship with believers.
I hope that this post has blessed your heart. I have found my hope restored further even as I write out what God is teaching us in this season. Be blessed and may you find a way to start living the Kingdom at home today.