We spent some time at Kentucky's Cumberland Falls State Park this past week. It's always refreshing to get away every now and then and behold the breathtaking beauty of nature. The Earth is his masterpiece, and with all of the magnificent places on the planet, we appreciate the privilege to enjoy his wonderful creation. The trees and flowers are now blooming, and we were fortunate to catch a glimpse of many types of birds, a family of deer, squirrels, groundhogs, raccoons and chipmunks along the trails. The roaring falls is always a spectacular sight and reminds us of God's amazing power and majesty.
After spending a day breathing in the fresh forest air and enjoying the peace and quiet, we ate dinner at the lodge and then retired to our room. Out of habit, we turned on the television and discovered there had been another deadly school shooting. How suddenly we were snapped back into the sobering reality of more heartache. Evil can only be stopped when it is removed from the conscience of mankind. Until then, we are faced with the consequences of sin.
The serious Christian is troubled by what is going on in the world, but they also realize that God is not panicking or surprised — he is in total control. We also know the Bible predicts that before the return of Christ, the days will become more perilous.
So what can we do? Well, we can make ourselves available to help those in need, but there is a condition that many Christians tend to forget. Most people do not really want help. They do not want to hear about God, and they do not want to change the way they live. The old saying is true, "You cannot help those who will not help themselves."
Next, we need to learn how to remain calm. The flood of daily negativity can cause fear and anxiety if we become more focused on the chaos than the hope and peace of God's presence. Yes, there is much wickedness and demonic influence in the world, which is why it's so critical to keep our mind and heart focused on God's still small voice. This is the only voice that really matters. He is our rock, our refuge and our anchor that can keep us from being overwhelmed with worry and discouragement.
Charles Spurgeon said, "Let this one great, gracious, glorious fact lie in your spirit until it permeates all your thoughts and makes you rejoice even though you are without strength. Rejoice that the Lord Jesus has become your strength and your song and has become your salvation."
Another point is the most obvious: We must pray. Prayer is a widely used word, and yet we wonder if people are really falling on their knees or is it just a nice thing to say? I am personally convinced that we must ask God to give us a desire to pray or we will never understand our spiritual responsibility.
Our human nature rebels so fiercely against us praying that if we do not develop a passionate burden to intercede, we will settle for just talking about it. Since prayer definitely changes circumstances, can you imagine how much good we could do if we did pray and how bad the world would be if the few individuals who are praying would stop?
God knew in the last days that his people would choose to spend more time watching television and enjoying life's pleasures than praying, and this explains more than we would like to admit.
Can we make a difference in the world? Absolutely!
Do we really want to make a difference in the world? That is the monumental question. It depends on how dedicated and determined we are to do what God is asking.
Helen Keller once said, "Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence."
This is a wonderful motivational statement, but we need to distinguish the difference between a natural confidence to do what we want to do and a spiritual faith that is devoted to God's instructions. When reverential respect and honor toward God is removed from education and government, it's like replacing our moral compass with a self-serving philosophy that justifies our decision to drift aimlessly on a sea of arrogant independence.
Dr. William F. Holland Jr. is a Christian minister, author and community outreach chaplain. Read more at billyhollandministries.com.