As we consider the world scene and the challenges that are presenting themselves to us as a nation and as individuals, we can see much to be discouraged about. For example:
In Iran, the government is moving relentlessly toward the development of a nuclear weapon. The leadership of that government vows to wipe Israel off the map.
In Israel, the government is warning Iran that it will strike if it feels that Iran is close to perfecting a nuclear weapon.
Bad news hits close to home
Around the world, great numbers of people are out of work or are under-employed. The economy is fragile, and there appears to be no end in site for things getting back to where they were before the economic "meltdown" took place. Adding to the discouraging picture above is the fact that if Israel attacks Iran this spring as suggested by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, there are those analysts who are predicting that gas prices will rise to $5 a gallon in the United States where I live and perhaps higher. This would cripple our economy even more and could lead to a worldwide recession or worse.
However, we as Christians have much to be encouraged about! Let's look at a number of assurances that we should keep burning brightly in our hearts and minds during these troubled times.
God's promises give us hope for the future
1. As we look ahead, we have the assurance of God's unfailing love. This is wonderful assurance. We, as children of God, should constantly remind ourselves that God loves us, He has always loved us, and He always will love us. His word to us is "…I have loved you with an everlasting love…" (Jeremiah 31:3) and "I will never leave you nor forsake you..." (Hebrews 13:5).
2. As we look ahead, we have the assurance of God's sufficient grace. There are bound to be sorrows, losses and disappointments. Can we feel encouraged as we face this probability? Yes, we can, because we not only have the assurance of God's unfailing love, but we have the guarantee of His sufficient grace. Note what Paul wrote to the Church in Corinth "And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work" (2 Corinthians 9:8) and "And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me" (2 Corinthians 12:9). Most people don't really know what grace is. The Greek word for grace is "charis," and it means divine favor. In simplest terms God's grace centers on his love care and concern for all facets of his creation. We owe our existence to God's love and grace. Because of God's grace we have a redeemer and hope for delieverance into the Kingdom of God.
3. As we look ahead, we have the assurance of God's abundant provision. God is our Good Shepherd and we are His sheep. The Good Shepherd provides for His sheep. "The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want" (Psalm 23:1) and "Oh, fear the LORD, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him. The young lions lack and suffer hunger; But those who seek the LORD shall not lack any good thing" (Psalm 34:9-10).
4. As we look ahead, we have the assurance of Christ's return. When Christ returns peace will settle over the earth! Paul, in writing to the Church at Thessalonica, said "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words" (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).
5. As we look ahead, we have the assurance of God's loving welcome to us in the Kingdom of God! "Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also" (John 14:1-3). Also, "His lord said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord'" (Matthew 25:21).
Our booklet, The Gospel of the Kingdom, documents the glorious future Jesus Christ will usher in at His return. Dozens of prophecies tell us how the world will be entirely transformed and all humanity taught a way of life that will bring peace, prosperity and productive, fulfilling lives. We can be assured and encouraged through these scriptures!