Q & A: Making Sense of the Political Divide in America—and More
So many people are allowing politics to divide our country and us as Americans and children of God. How can I know the difference between turning the other cheek and taking a stand for what is right? —Judy, Darlene, and LuAnn
David Jeremiah replies: America was originally founded on Christian principles, but this foundational premise began to erode after World War II. Today momentum for the downward trend is building. The government, the educational system, the entertainment industry, and the media no longer share our values, which means faithful Christians are becoming alienated from the dominant forces in society. Christianity is now a religious subculture, increasingly demonized, ridiculed, and marginalized.
There are three decisions we can make: determine to stand for truth, draw support from one another, and derive your security from the Lord.
Persecution is not too strong a word to describe what is happening to Christians in America today. To be persecuted for righteousness’ sake means that we are hated or opposed or suffer solely for following Christ and living for God. In our nation, we are experiencing five stages of religious suppression: stereotyping, marginalizing, threatening, intimidating, and litigating. I think America is a long way from the kind of persecution that involves torture and death, as Christians endured in the New Testament and now endure in other countries. But one never knows what may lurk around the corner. In my younger days, I never in my wildest nightmares dreamed that Christianity would be under fire as it now is in the United States.
How should Christians in the United States react to persecution? The first response might naturally be anger. But the New Testament gives us a more constructive response. The early Christians suffered much more severe persecution than anything we presently face, and we never find them responding in anger. In fact, they found positive benefits in suffering. They discovered suffering promotes character (Romans 5:3–5), provokes courage (Acts 4:19–20; Philippians 1:20–21), proves godliness (2 Timothy 3:12; Hebrews 12:6; 1 Peter 5:10), produces joy (Acts 16:25; 5:41), and provides rewards (Hebrews 11:24–26).
When we view the current political climate in light of God’s eternal plan, there are decisions we can make and steps we can take in advance to steel ourselves for that moment when persecution comes. Let’s look at three things we can do to prepare for that moment.
- Determine to stand for truth. It is imperative that fear of rejection, criticism, or loss does not cower us into hiding our light. To live worthy of the Gospel is to stand for God’s truth without bending. As Paul urged the Corinthians, we are to “watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love” (1 Corinthians 16:13–14).
- Draw support from one another. We cannot be Christians alone. We need the company of others like ourselves with whom we can share encouragement, struggles, and victories. It is easy for us to feel alone and discouraged, but in the company of fellow believers, we draw strength, discipline, knowledge, encouragement, support, and love from one another. A courageous example can spur any one of us to say, “If he or she can do it, by God’s grace, so can I.”
- Derive your security from the Lord. The key to standing firm in the face of persecution is to remember whom we belong to and where we are going. We belong to Christ, and He secures us in His hand. Thus, we need not fear danger to our reputations, our jobs, our finances, or even our physical lives. As He said, “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25).
I’m trying to make sense of how this all fits into God’s timeline and the Revelation of Christ’s return. —Janet
David Jeremiah replies: In Matthew 24, our Lord predicted the future of world history and the end of the age. Now, I believe the signs in Matthew 24:4–14 represent a description of the first half of the tribulation period. But these trends and events are not going to suddenly appear when the Rapture comes. They’re going to increasingly characterize these Last Days leading up to the Rapture of the Church, as they reverberate backward through time.
The Rapture is the next event on God’s prophetic calendar, and it will occur without warning. It could happen at any time! We can almost hear the countdown. We’re living in prophetic times and seeing prophecy fulfilled right before our eyes. When we consider world events, we can see that the signs of Matthew 24 are intensifying. It’s time to look up, for our redemption draws near!
Practice putting these three steps into action to find peace in your heart: trust the Lord and do your duty, keep calm and don’t be afraid, and carry on and rely on God to fight for you.
During these troubled times, we can find personal peace by considering God’s message to two Old Testament figures. When King Ahaz and the nation of Judah were facing invasion by two enemies, the Lord gave this message through the prophet Isaiah: “Be careful, keep calm and don’t be afraid. Do not lose heart because of these two smoldering stubs of firewood” (Isaiah 7:4, NIV). Even earlier, Moses had told the Israelites by the Red Sea: “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still…. The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm” (Exodus 14:13–14, NLT).
This is a message for us: “Be careful… keep calm… don’t lose heart… stand still… the Lord will fight for you.” Do those words reverberate in your heart right now? The devil may try to invade your orbit and disrupt your day. The truth is we may have battles on multiple fronts because of the turbulent times we live in, but as we fix our thoughts on Jesus, we will be able to claim His perfect peace and persevere. Practice putting these three steps into action to find peace in your heart: trust the Lord and do your duty, keep calm and don’t be afraid, and carry on and rely on God to fight for you.
I’m trying to make sense of praying. I know it’s important, and yes, I do pray. But I wonder why some Christian people are healed of disease, illness, while others are not. It doesn’t stop me from praying; I just wonder why. —Lori
David Jeremiah replies: The greatest challenge in the loss of health is to keep trusting God. We know that He cares for us and that we have ultimate healing through the shed blood and empty tomb of Jesus Christ. But the loss of health affects us emotionally as much as physically. It puts us at risk financially and vocationally. It sets us on a collision course with our most dreaded enemy—death—and we may find ourselves in real mortal danger, exposed to possible suffering, chronic pain, and the loss of all we hold dear in life.
It is important to remember that as long as we’re in this world, God intends to use us. Our work isn’t over until He takes us home. Christian history tells us that some of the greatest works for God have been done by people battling illness or disability.
When our car breaks down, we take advantage of those who have repair skills. In the much more important area of our health, we do the same. We pray for God to guide us to doctors who can help; we pray for their wisdom and skill; we discipline ourselves to follow healing regimens; we trust God to do “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think”(Ephesians 3:20). Health challenges should be faced the same way we face any other challenge in the Christian life—with faith in God’s power to accomplish His purposes.
It is important to remember that as long as we’re in this world, God intends to use us. Our work isn’t over until He takes us home. Christian history tells us that some of the greatest works for God have been done by people battling illness or disability. Illness is many things, not the least of which is the opportunity to grow deeper in Christ. Many, including myself, can attest to the spiritual growth that can occur during health challenges. Priorities become clearer than ever before. The promises of God are read with refined eyes. And spiritually, we grow grateful for the grace of God and the gift of life.
Certainly, discouragement sometimes comes with prayer, but remember this: There will always be discouragement without prayer! Discouragement follows prayerlessness like winter follows fall. But when we choose to continue praying, even through a long and barren winter, eventually spring arrives, and with it comes new life. At that point, discouragement has no choice but to find somewhere else to live.
What God is trying to tell us by allowing Satan control over all the things happening in the world today? Why is He silent and not intervening? Is it the Second Coming? —Karen and Judy
David Jeremiah replies: As world conditions worsen, Jesus said we shouldn’t hang our heads in hopelessness or shake our heads in confusion. Instead, we should lift our heads in expectation, for our redemption draws near (Luke 21:28). After Paul told the Thessalonians about the sudden return of Christ in the air for His people, he said, “Comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:18).
As world conditions worsen, Jesus said we shouldn’t hang our heads in hopelessness or shake our heads in confusion. Instead, we should lift our heads in expectation, for our redemption draws near (Luke 21:28).
Our world is in a state of depression. Proverbs 12:25 states: “Anxiety in the heart of a man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad.” Obviously, there are times when medication is absolutely called for, but meditation is often better. When we visualize our Lord’s return, we’re treating our souls to a “good word.”
Jesus told His worried disciples on His last night with them, “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions.… I will come again and receive you to Myself” (John 14:1–3).
Try this experiment. One evening, sit down and watch television for an hour, focusing on a roundup of the world news. It’ll be an hour filled with riots, war, politics, problems, budget deficits, serial killers, and natural disasters. Reflect on how you feel afterward.
The next night, turn off the television and study First and Second Thessalonians, two little books in the New Testament with much to say about the Lord’s return. Read Paul’s promise that God will give His anxious children rest “when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels” (2 Thessalonians 1:7). After an hour of pondering the eight short chapters of the Thessalonian epistles, my guess is you’ll have joy in your heart as you anticipate His return.
The study of the signs of the times isn’t just for “Second Coming scholars.” It’s for every single Christian who loves His appearing. It’s comprehensible, and it’s compelling, and it will change your life. It is a practical subject with tangible benefits, and those who study it are happier, holier, healthier people. We can rightly consider it the greatest self–improvement course we can take, and the benefits are eternal.
During these challenging days, find out what the Bible has to say about the prophetic times, and learn to pray: Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
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