Happy Memorial Day! I say this knowing full good and well that everyone is not in a happy place today. There is a reason for it of course – Franklin Graham recently said at a Christian media convention: Every ‘demon from hell’ has been ‘turned loose’ in society. He is waging a war far more brutal than the one being waged against Ukraine by Putin, and he has a seemingly endless supply of weapons to be used to attack us. I believe that the sin that evolves from his pornography, free flowing alcohol, drugs, sexual perversion, violence, divorce, evil teachers and college professors, living in the past and dwelling on our mistakes, and so on prevent those who allow it to take root in their lives from enjoying the peace of God in turbulent times.
I receive correspondence nearly every day from people asking me to pray for them and their various situations. I faithfully pray for them and try to encourage them as best I know how. One reader wrote: “Currently, I am going through an extremely difficult time emotionally and praying constantly for strength and hope. I am emotionally exhausted. Please lift me up in prayer, along with my son.” This lady is not alone and should know that the battle is raging around all of us daily. If you are not currently in a low place, just hang on because the roller coaster of life will take you from peaks to valleys. The key is to turn to God in good and bad times.
Some suffer from addictions, serious health problems, loneliness, divorce, loss of loved ones, etc.. I read an interesting article that mentions that in countries where euthanasia and assisted suicide are legal, doctors and researchers are debating whether tiredness of life which is quite common in old people meets the threshold for the sort of unceasing emotional suffering that grants people the right to euthanasia. This group is comprised of primarily old people who have lost interest in life. The American novelist Philip Roth wrote that “old age is not a battle; old age is a massacre”. If we live long enough, it seems we can lose our identity, physical capabilities, partner, friends, and careers. The key issues identified in such people are aching loneliness, pain associated with not mattering, struggles with self-expression, existential tiredness, and fear of being reduced to a completely dependent state. It’s ironic as scientists race to lengthen lifespans, more elderly itch for an early dismissal due to what they refer to as “Tiredness of life”.
Consider Molly, she was 88 years old and in good health. She had outlived two husbands, her siblings, most of her friends and her only son. When queried about life she stated: “I don’t have any meaningful relationships left, dear,” she told me. “They’ve all died. And you know what? Underneath it all, I want to leave this world too.” Leaning a little closer, as though she was telling me a secret, she continued: “Shall I tell you what I am? I’m strong. I can admit to myself and to you that there’s nothing left for me here. I’m more than ready to leave when it’s my time. In fact, it can’t come quickly enough.”
Hmmm . . . Doesn’t sound like the golden years to me. I don’t think she wants to live to 120 by taking some magic treatment.
So what to do? I go back to the first paragraph of this post and Franklin Graham’s warning that,. Every ‘demon from hell’ has been ‘turned loose’ in society and hope you realize that the only solution in this dilemma is to turn to God. I watched a Bible related lesson from Phil Roberson the Duck Commander of Duck dynasty. He had a key passage that he centered on Philippians 4:11-13 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance, and need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
The Apostle Paul is legendary in the suffering department. He had been stoned, caned, flogged, badly beaten, falsely imprisoned, shipwrecked, bitten by a poisonous snake and all his former friends turned their backs on him and yet he was “content”. Another of my heroes was the Reverend Billy Graham. Late in life he suffered from Parkinson Disease and was very feeble and reduced to sitting in His study much of his last days. He died at 99 years old. By all accounts he fought the good fight right up until the bitter end.
With God’s help and a strong determination, I conquered alcoholism, drug addiction, violent antisocial behavior and so on in my life. I fought the good fight on many fronts, but it is still not over for me, and I still want to fight for lost souls. I regret that I cannot travel to huge speaking engagements or go to a different prison preaching every weekend as I once did, due to my eyesight among other things, but I can fight with whatever tools are left at my disposal . Old age is just another battle front. I admit that sometimes I get discouraged and long for God to whisk me away to the place He has prepared for me, but since He has not elected to do so yet, means to me that He wants me to keep on fighting the good fight which I intend to do.
Finally, I say if you are discouraged today, take heart. Rest if you must but don’t you quit. Paul’s contentment with whatever situation is our example of someone who trusts God through thick and thin. Take it from me hunkering down and enduring being in a hurricane is a long frightening process, but when it finally passes and that bluebird sky appears without a cloud in it, (well maybe a couple of puffy white ones) one cannot help but look to heaven and say to God, “Thanks for being with me.”.
2 Corinthians 12:10
For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.