By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist & Reflector
COVID-19 is beginning its third year and has shown no sign of going away. People are still catching the disease and, sadly, some are still dying.
Russia has invaded the Ukraine. Thousands of people have died and people are fleeing the country.
Gas prices are skyrocketing. In Tennessee, gas has exceeded $4 a gallon in some places and it is knocking on the door at other gas stations. I got a bargain last week, $3.79 a gallon.
Time magazine reported in January of this year that the number of violent crimes is on the rise in the nation. Homicides rose nationally by 7 percent in 2021, according to Time.
The list can go on and on. We all know families who have been affected adversely because of the pandemic. Some folks lost their jobs and while there are plenty of jobs available, especially in the restaurant business, many families struggle to make ends meet.
It’s easy to get caught up in the hopelessness we see in our world.
Christians have a distinct advantage over non-Christians when the world appears to be falling apart. We have hope that can be found only in Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, too many Christians get caught in the trap/sin of worry.
My grandmother was one of the most godly women I have ever known. She was instrumental in leading me to Christ, but that woman could have written a book on how to worry. If there was a Ph.D. available for worriers, Mom would have graduated with honors. She read her Bible and had tremendous faith, but she still worried. We used to tease her that she would worry about not having anything to worry about.
The Bible, however, makes it clear that worrying is a waste of time and that it keeps us from doing what really matters — sharing the love of Jesus Christ with others. I try to remind myself of this often because I think I inherited my grandmother’s tendency to worry. There are many excellent passages in Scripture, especially Matthew 6:25-34 (CSB). Verse 25 states it clearly, “Don’t worry about your life … .” Then verse 34 ends the passage with this reminder, “Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
And, Philippians 4:6 (CSB) also makes it plain, “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
We all have times when we are down, and we let life’s circumstances weigh us down. But do we stay that way or do we trust God to deliver us from worry? It’s all about attitude. We can live life with a dour look all the time or we can let the joy of Jesus shine brightly. Ultimately, it’s up to us.
My wife and I recently stayed at a hotel, and we met the lady who checked us in. She had an infectious attitude, and she loved to talk. She shared that she held three jobs but she radiated joy, not self pity. She was doing what she needed to take care of herself and her family. She could have been bitter and depressed, but her attitude did not reflect those traits. Other guests came in so we did not get to have a gospel conversation, but I have a strong sense that she was a woman of faith.
What do people see when they look at us? Do they see Jesus or do they see someone who appears hopeless and depressed?
It’s not easy, but we can’t let the circumstances of the world rob us of the joy of the Lord and the hope that can only be found in Him. After all, it’s that hope in Jesus that carries us through the worst of times. As He reminds us in John 16:33, “In this world you will have tribulation, but fear not, I have overcome the world.” We must share that hope with others.