These are crazy days, aren't they? Just a quick read of this morning's newspaper gives me the willies. Gas prices . . . up and down. Financial markets . . . all over the place. Housing market . . . good for sellers or buyers? I can't keep up with it all.
One week from tomorrow we'll be voting in one of the most important presidential elections of our time. No matter which side of the line you fall, to the right or to the left, you've probably felt some desperation about the outcome.
And in my own neighborhood, just last week, someone tried to abduct a young girl--the friend of one of my daughters. More than the headlines, this has just about sent me over the edge.
I'm telling you, it's all kinds of crazy out there!
But last week I heard something that has helped a lot, and, just in case you're feeling as desperate as I am these days, I thought it might help you too.
I attended a large banquet last week at which Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham (who just happens to be my alma mater's most famous alumnus), spoke. He talked about these crazy days, about how many people believe that these days are pointing more than ever to the last days. He acknowledged that it's easy to become discouraged. Just look around.
But he pointed out that when Jesus was here on earth he didn't tell his disciples to be discouraged, rather he told his disciples to be alert. In Mark 13:33, Jesus is telling his disciples about the days just before his return. He tells them, "Be on guard! Be alert! You don't know when the time will come."
Did he tell them to be discouraged? No! He just said to pay attention to what's going on. Be alert.
So B and I were discussing this on the way home, about how we shouldn't be discouraged about the outcome of the election or about how we have no retirement fund left or about any of it. We talked about how the opposite of discourage is EN-courage. And there's way more talk in the Bible of encouragement than discouragement.
And then B had one more brilliant point, as usual. He said, "What's the root of both of those words?"
As Christians, we are to have courage when the going gets tough. When facing the future. When facing various trials. Courage and faith go hand-in-hand.
I was reminded about last year, when my friend, Amy, was going through a desperate time, and I sent her a note with this verse on it: "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9
I don't know about you, but these days I'm going to try to be encouraged, to be strong and courageous, no matter what happens. All is well.