Our future hinges on our responses
When the other day someone said “We live in uncertain times,” the person beside them burst out laughing and said “Thanks, Captain Obvious.”
There is no doubt that we live in uncertain times. I’m not sure that things haven’t always been a little uncertain.
My parents were born into the throes of the Great Depression, married, Hitler invaded Europe to impose his personal brand of socialism on the world, the Japanese attacked us at Pearl Harbor to help the mad German.
My parents had been planning a quiet life, but instead, my father was drafted into World War II.
That war brought rationing and the fear that either the Japanese would attack our West Coast or the Germans would find a way to attack our East Coast. By the time the United States was forced into the war–don’t get me going about the atrocities that were taking place while we sat idly by, refusing all but the most minimal of help to even England–Europe, which had been fighting the war for more than two years, was in shambles.
Within five years of that war ending, North Korea invaded South Korea, and we were off to war again in 1950. Three years and five million deaths later, we negotiated our way out of that one.
The peace didn’t last long. In the 1950s the United States began sending personnel into Vietnam, and in 1961 President Kennedy scaled things much bigger.
The war raged until after massive social unrest we pulled out in 1973. More than 58,000 Americans died during that war. A relative of mine, someone I think a great deal of, did three tours in Vietnam as a United States Marine.
Our soldiers returned home to the sort of infamy that didn’t arise again until the Trump presidency. They came back to the hippies. Woodstock had already happened. I know that many people of a certain age long for the return of those days. I’m not one of them.
So, what is the point of this little glance-over-our-shoulder reminiscence?
I think we need to remember that we’ve been through uncertain times before. Every generation has undergone a challenge–a test, if you will. And every test asks one question: will you learn the lessons you have been given, or will you spurn those lessons and thereby be diminished?
Every challenge has within it the seeds of the lesson we are being taught.
The biblical story of the children of Israel is a good example. A small group went to Egypt for the best of purposes. When they grew too large, the Egyptians enslaved them. About 400 years and about a million births later, and after God gave the Egyptians a series of incredibly instructive challenges (to which they did not respond positively), havoc had been visited on them, and Moses lead his people out.
The children of Israel did not learn from watching the destruction of Egypt. They refused God’s instruction to go into the Promised Land, so what happened? God saw their rebellion, and he issued a test, a challenge.
He marched them around the wilderness for forty years while He taught them to be a nation of laws, both religious and secular. You would be surprised to learn how many laws we follow in the United States have an origin in those times.
So where are we in all of this? That depends on us.
First, we have to figure out what lesson we are being offered. Is what we are going through a punishment? An instruction? Both?
Then we have to decide how we are going to respond.
When the children of Israel responded one way, they got to leave bondage; when they responded inappropriately, instructive challenge was piled onto instructive challenge
The lessons of the Exodus are both timeless and enormous. Take a look at them and let me know what you think.
Are we the children of Israel who were willing to be lead out of bondage?
Or are we the children of Israel who are in open rebellion and requiring further instruction?
Our future hinges on our response.
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