In the Last Days…

“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

 They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires,  always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.” -2 Timothy 3:1-7

I don’t talk about current events. I don’t like the debates that spring from any post giving personal opinions about politics, gun laws or racial equality. I think it is pointless to participate in or facilitate these arguments on social media, as I’ve never seen a Tweet sway anyone’s opinion. I rarely speak about these matters outside of my home.

That being said, my heart is heavy after waking up this morning to a Facebook feed overflowing with “Pray for Dallas” and “Black Lives Matter” posts. I hadn’t yet learned about the shooting in Dallas. Sadly, I was not shocked to learn that police officers in Dallas were gunned down. I was not astonished at the shooters’ hatred. I did not say, “How could this happen?!”

Do the things going on in my country and around the world made me sad? Yes. A thousand times, yes! But am I surprised by them? No. Not in the least.
I am not surprised by the events of the past week, because this is exactly what God said would happen. His Word says, “There will be terrible times in the last days.” Then it goes on to explain why there will be terrible times: People

The Bible speaks often about the human heart. We all are inclined to selfishness which is the root of all sin. Every day, in every moment and decision, we weigh our options. We either choose to do what is beneficial to us – quenches our desires and boosts our egos –  or we choose to do what is right. And what is right is seldom what is easy.

I am assuming (and yes, it’s only an educated assumption) that the gunmen in Dallas were seeking some sort of “justice” for the black men recently killed by officers in several states. I think it should be obvious to any person in their right mind that killing police officers not even involved in the incidents is no form of justice at all. It’s not even revenge. The only statement you’re sending is one of hatred, disregard for the law and disrespect of even the people you’re trying to avenge.
But that’s the state of the human heart.

 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips,  slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. – Romans 1:28-31

On my way to work this morning, I was thinking about how much tragedy I’ve seen in my life. The first tragic event that I can clearly remember is the Oklahoma City bombing. Then Columbine. Then September 11th. Since then, I’ve seen too many horrible things to even count. I’ve seen anger turn to hatred. I’ve seen hatred spark wars. I’ve seen fear undo progress.

When I was a little girl, my dad was in the U.S. Army. I attended public schools on those Army bases with the children of soldiers and officers of every race.  I knew and was friends with white children, black children, Hispanic children. I knew they had different color skin and hair than I did. I didn’t know that was important. We played together, talked together and learned together just the same. To me the girl with the black dad and German mom was just Jessica. My friend. To me, my black next-door neighbors were just the nice people who came to Bible study at our house.

When my dad left the Army and we settled in Alabama was the first time I realized that race was an issue. The first day in my new school I felt like something was wrong, but I couldn’t really put my finger on it. Then I realized what it was. Everyone was white. It wasn’t that black people weren’t allowed there, it’s just that in the suburbs of Birmingham there were clearly “black neighborhoods” and “white neighborhoods”. And as a result there were mostly white and mostly black schools. I found it strange, even as a fifth grader.

Now that I’m an adult, I don’t find it as strange. It makes sense to me that people belonging to certain cultures would rather live near and go to school with people of the same culture. And as far as I can tell, being black is not just about skin color. It’s about culture. So, in that sense I can understand a certain amount of “division”. I cannot however advocate for any kind of discrimination based solely on the color of a person’s skin.

No amount of protest – peaceful or otherwise – will change the problem of discrimination in this country. You will not see me posting #blacklivesmatter , but I believe that they do. I’ve had precious friends, wonderful co-workers and even family members who are black. I admire the men and women of all races who faught for and are still fighting for equality in the right ways. The problem comes when the people saying “black lives matter” and “all lives matter” aren’t living their lives like that’s true. Why do black lives matter? Why do all lives matter? Because each life, no matter the outer shell, was created for a God-given purpose. Your life matters and my life matters because God has a plan for us.

I’ve watched all my life the story unfold. I’m watching now as this country spirals into defeat. Yes, defeat. We are letting evil triumph. We are fueling the fires that blaze against peace and true justice. We are taking our lives and our futures into our own hands, instead of following after and trusting in God. The only hope for our country and our world starts with a change of heart on an individual level. It starts with my heart changing. It starts with leaving justice to the “One Lawgiver” and “Righteous Judge”. It starts with submitting to God’s will in our personal lives and opening our hearts to love.

What do I do in the face of yet another tragedy? Do I let hate brew or let fear grow? Do I lose hope that anything will ever change?
As odd as it will sound to the unbelieving heart, I praise. I praise God because He still holds the future. The victory is His. He has “given over” this world to our evil desires, but He is still here wishing we would let Him pick up the pieces.

 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. – 2 Corinthians 1:3-5

 

 

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