IT WAS THE BEST OF TIMES. IT WAS THE WORST OF TIMES.
Or possibly both at the same time. At least it was interesting times.
For Daniel and his friends, being taken away to a strange land as teenagers, to serve a foreign king in a country with foreign customs, it probably seemed like the worst of times.
For Esther, yanked out of her cozy home as a teenager to be put on parade before the king, knowing that one night doing something you had no experience at (the prerequisite was that you did not have any experience) would change your life either to one of cloistered captivity or high privilege, and knowing she had a terrible secret to hide, it probably seemed like the worst of times.
To Ruth, triple-play tragedy leading to widowhood for her mother-in-law, sister-in-law and herself, probably seemed like the worst of times.
To the remaining 11 disciples, knowing the Master – the one they’d identified and followed as the Messiah – was in the grave, knowing that one of their own had betrayed Him, knowing how brutally He had been treated and suspecting bounties on their own heads, it must have seemed like the worst of times.
Depending on which mix of news sources you read, follow, listen to or watch, it may seem like the media is trying to convince us all that these are the worst of times or that the media is trying to make these seem like the best of times.
Or perhaps you are facing such personal trial that you cannot imagine a worse time and these are, thus far in your life, the worst of times. Alternately, perhaps things are going very well for you and your family and for your personal life these are some of the best of times.
The truth is, for a Christian, we understand that at all times while we are human beings walking this earth at any moment, at any intervention from God, at any turn of the screw by Satan, at the moment of any good or bad decision, life has the potential of being the worst of times or the best of times, or both at the same time.
In each one of the stories above, the faithfulness of our merciful God turned the worst of times into the best of times with the opportunity of life time. Esther became Queen and saved her nation. Ruth found love and acceptance in her new land and is part of the lineage of David and Jesus. Daniel rose to high authority, counseled kings and saw the future.
During their “worst of times,” none of these had any idea what God was about to do in, through and for them. We have to acknowledge that not every story ends well from a human standpoint. The disciples healed the sick, spread the gospel and died faithful – many of them as faithful martyrs. Yet they lived faithful lives of integrity and obedience.
And that is my message for today: regardless of what is going on around me, my obligation is to live a life of steadfast, consistent integrity.
This blog was sparked by an article I read from and about the news source Reuters. Here is the link: http://www.reuters.com/article/rpb-adlertrump-idUSKBN15F276
There are several good quotes in the article, but the final paragraph sums up what inspired me:
This is our mission, in the U.S. and everywhere. We make a difference in the world because we practice professional journalism that is both intrepid and unbiased…We operate with calm integrity not just because it’s in our rulebook but because – over 165 years – it has enabled us to do the best work and the most good.
They were addressing how Reuters intends to act in the face of “fake news” and what I would paraphrase as a “potentially contentious relationship” with the current administration. In a nutshell: no different than their internal mandate for integrity has led them to do all over the world for that 165 year.
In the good times, we cannot be tempted to forget God as Israel did. We cannot grow lax in obedience or in prayer and Bible study or let riches and success turn our heads. Our God is “Lord of the best of times.” And we must be faithful children in the best of times.
In bad times, we cannot be tempted to give up, let our obedience or character waver, or curse God as Job’s wife advised him to do. [Job 2:9] Our God is “Lord of the worst of times.” And we must be faithful children in the worst of times.
Our lives are always to ultimately cause others to glorify God. 1 Peter 2:12 [NIV] Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. See also Matthew 5:16. This is a Christians mandate no matter what whirlwind of joy or trouble circles around them so that we can do the best work (God’s work) and the most good in this world.
Best of times? Worst of times? A little of both? No matter. I must still live a life of steadfast integrity. Stay faithful, my friend.
I’d love to hear your thoughts too. Write me at Nancy@DynamicChristianMinistries.org.