Summary: Our hope grows in times of distress
Now I have not seen to many millenniums’ come and go, as a matter of fact I can only think of one but to be totally honest I don’t know how successful we have been so far.
It all started with that Y2K bug and all of end times talk. But there were no nationwide blackouts, no financial freezes, no air traffic control disasters, no food shortages, no looting in the streets. The only thing that happened was that it was a great time to be in the generator and bottled water business. But we grew more suspicious of our technology.
That was followed up by a presidential race and that didn’t go very well at all in Florida or anywhere else. A disputed election very nearly created a constitutional crisis. By the time Mr. Bush took the oath of office, even the most offended voters were ready for the whole thing to be over. But the confidence we had in our democratic process was shaken. And that was seen in the last election.
Then came the demise of the dot-com industry and with their fall, a deflated stock market. Once we sobered up from the dizzying heights of the market, we began to take a more honest look at some of the accounting procedures of companies we believed in, and couldn’t believe the levels of dishonesty in companies like Enron and people like Martha Stewart. And the integrity of our financial system has been violated.
This was followed by the collapse of the World Trade Centers, an attack on the Pentagon, and the deliberate crash of four commercial jetliners. In the weeks that followed, the word anthrax became a common word on household scrabble boards. Until 9/11, terrorism was something only the Israelis had to deal with. But now we’ve changed the way we fly, the way we view people from other nations, our definition of security. And we no longer expect our government to protect us nor do we believe it can.
Our new millennium has taught us that the promise of technology is hollow. The reliability of our government is questionable. The integrity of our financial system is suspect. The security of our nation is compromised. And our children are not safe.
These large scale, news worthy losses were accompanied by millions of small, unpublicized, but very personal devastations. A doctor writes "Diagnosis: cancer," on a lab report.
A judge signs her name to a divorce document.
A family business closes and locks its doors for the last time.
A medium-sized company down sizes to small.
A single mother hesitates before opening her mail box, certain that there will be more bills in the box than money in her account.
A troubled 15 year old writes a letter telling his family he can’t go any farther.
A husband and father thinks about praying, but doesn’t.
There is an old Arab parable that says: All sunshine and no rain makes a desert." If you never have any down times, dark times, gloomy times in your life you’ll be dried up. You’ll have no depth to yourself, no maturity. It takes good times and bad times to make a mature person. Life is a mixture of pain and pleasure, of victory and defeat, of success and failure, of mountain tops and valleys.
In a world so apparently defined by tragedy, loss and failure do the words faith, hope and love ring true, realistic or possible?
Or do they sound like so much religious denial in the face of overwhelming evidence that there is nothing to believe in, nothing to look forward to, and nothing that can be done?
The greatest devastation for any culture is not that it will be forgotten, but that it will become forgetful. We are wandering aimlessly in a deep state of amnesia. We have become so self focused that we have forgotten what God says about the valley’s of life and that others have been here before and survived.
There are five facts about valleys that you need to remember whenever you go through a tough time:
1. VALLEYS ARE INEVITABLE
They are going to happen so you might as well count on them. You have either just come out of a valley, you’re in one right now, or you’re probably headed toward one. Valleys happen throughout life -- one right after another. After every mountain top there is a valley.
Jesus was very realistic about it. In John 16, He says "In the world you will have trouble." It’s not a matter of if, it’s when. It’s going to happen. You’re going to have difficulty, disappointment, and discouragement in life. There will be times of suffering, sorrow, and sickness. There will be times of frustration, failure and fatigue. They are going to happen. They are a normal part of life. Don’t be surprised by it.