Political scandals. Terrorism. Out of control federal spending. Activist judges. Infringement of religious liberties. Eroding respect for marriage. Destruction of human life.
Fresh examples of all these problems — along with many others — have dominated the news cycle lately. Discouraging headlines on each of these fronts have served as reminders that our country is still dealing with these same challenges after many years (often decades) of struggle.
My temptation is to sometimes think that America is hopelessly broken — that these problems won’t go away, because we’ve seen so little progress for so long. I catch myself thinking that our best efforts will only slow the deterioration, not stop the decline.
But this defeatist attitude is entirely misguided. As a Christian, I need to remember that I serve a God who has been reigning over the rise and fall of every nation from the beginning of history. America is no exception to that rule. Nobody — no crooked politician, radical lobbyist group, or militant terrorist network — ultimately has any power to alter the plans crafted by the King of kings and Creator of the universe. In these moments, I must recall the assurances throughout Scripture that “God reigns over the nations” (Psalm 47:8) and that “He removes kings and raises up kings” (Daniel 2:21) according to His purposes.
These reminders produce hope in the midst of my discouragement. When grounded in the truth, the headlines don’t matter as much, because I can have faith that God is somehow at work behind the latest worrisome newsflash.
While these facts don’t excuse us as Christians from taking meaningful action to influence our society, the fundamental reality of God’s total control over all things means that the most important task we can perform is prayer. It means that in the midst of seemingly hopeless situations, we should ask God to work mightily in our nation, not as a final recourse in a lost situation, but as our go-to solution. As Oswald Chambers writes, “We tend to use prayer as a last resort, but God wants it to be our first line of defense. We pray when there’s nothing else we can do, but God wants us to pray before we do anything at all.”
In the face of bad news, we need to be more consumed with trust in God than with the direness of the current situation. Even in the most disheartening of times, our requests should always be filled with faith, since we know that the Lord hears our prayers and “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20). For it is He, not we, who must ultimately bring spiritual transformation to our nation and rescue us from the deep-seated troubles our country faces. Have no doubt; this is good news for the Christian.