A Moment in History Pregnant with Purpose

A reader recently posted a comment that has stuck with me.  He asked, “Why do I even bother awakening to face another day of truly impending doom?”  He sarcastically added, “May as well get drunk and go back to sleep cuz the ‘Republicans’ won’t do enough this year or next five to prevent the really bad times coming which will make the Depression/WWII seem like the good old days.”  As someone who regularly partakes in gallows humor, I chuckled at the sentiment.  Over the next day, though, the serious thought behind that sentiment began to increasingly sting like a smart jab to the ribs.

I write a lot about “doom and gloom” issues during this era of great social change, much like how a Bangkok meteorologist writes a lot about rain during monsoon season.  Sometimes the steady downpour of “doom and gloom” feels as if it will never come to an end — just as a persistent monsoon often convinces the body that it will never stop raining.  The wet season, however, does finally pass.  So too will this period of prolonged madness.  

It is why I also write so much about a “Great Awakening” happening both here in America and across the West, in which more and more minds are becoming alert to the evils around us.  Sometimes these “awakenings” happen in spurts, where punctuated events jolt sleeping brains awake for the first time.  Seeing people experience an “Aha!” moment is like watching the clouds part so that sunlight can briefly reach the ground.  Those epiphanies are becoming more frequent, and more sunlight is steadily breaking through the swirling chaos that surrounds us.  That doesn’t just fill me with hope; it provides me with a sustained comfort that comes from a firm belief that we will overcome this chaos together.  Why awaken to face another day of impending doom?  Because we are blessed to be “awake.”

I frequently compare our present historical moment to the era of America’s Founding Fathers, as they fought for independence.  It is not just that self-determination and liberty are once again being threatened by an unaccountable and tyrannical State, but also that the contest before us is difficult and not for the faint of heart.  Even in classrooms where American history has not been censored or rewritten, it is easy to read about the Continental Congress, the Declaration of Independence, and the Bill of Rights as if they were preordained.  We celebrate America’s birth on the Fourth of July, but few take the time to remember that the struggles for America’s existence occurred not in a single day but rather over the course of several decades.  If calls for American self-governance blossomed after the Stamp Act of 1765 and the security of America’s sovereignty remained a bit wobbly until the conclusion of the War of 1812, then our revolutionary forefathers spent nearly half a century establishing the United States on firm foundations before bequeathing to us a legacy of human liberty.  In those volatile years, there was war, starvation, social upheaval, fierce public debate, and spiritual awakening.  Even though great things happened and inspired revelation rolled over the land like mid-storm sunlight, it was definitely monsoon season for many years.

Still, even during the chaos of the late eighteenth century, people got married, had families, formed communities, and persevered through trials and tribulations that most of us have never endured.  The “American Experiment” might have been the finest jewel of the Enlightenment, but to have read Thomas Paine’s Common Sense in the local tavern, to have endured British occupation in Boston, or to have been on the receiving end of the first volleys at Lexington and Concord would have felt like the beginnings of a long journey with just as many tortuous uncertainties as inspired truths.  If America’s success story was foreordained, it is because America’s Founders steadfastly believed in God’s gift of freedom.  

What should we take from that lesson?  Well, for starters, it means that we alone possess the means of preserving liberty for posterity.  Governments do not hand over freedom to people because it is not theirs to give.  People assert their freedoms as God-given human rights against any form of government that insists otherwise.  That power does not come from artificial intelligence, military-grade weapons, central bank funny money, or an entrenched bureaucracy that spends its time shackling citizens with new rules, regulations, and laws.  Freedom’s power comes from God’s inspiring presence within the human mind.  As another reader recently commented, good things happen when we invite God “into our hearts, families, and country.”

Do you believe in God?  If so, then do not allow yourself to be mesmerized by despair.  If the Devil showed up at your doorstep with a billion-demon army and demanded that you join, would you acquiesce to your conscription?  Or, having been forced to confront the existence of Evil face to face, would you dust off the full armor of God and pray for strength, guidance, and grace?  Often, it is when we are tested most harshly that we find courage that we never knew we had.  Do you think that’s because God prefers ninth-inning comebacks, or perhaps because God knows that to get the best from each one of us, He must challenge the very fiber of our souls?

Do you question that God’s hand is sculpting the challenges we face today?  If so, it is never too late to “awaken” to God’s truth and, through His truth, to find implacable strength.  As one of the most popular Christian hymns ever written ebulliently declares: “Amazing grace! How sweet the sound / That saved a wretch like me! / I once was lost, but now am found; / Was blind, but now I see.”  John Newton, an English slave-trader turned evangelical cleric and abolitionist, wrote that stanza, coincidentally enough, around the same time that Americans were declaring their independence from Great Britain.  Throughout history, spiritual awakenings have consistently provided the timely foundations for every great struggle for human liberty.  Ours is not at all different.

Enlightenments are messy.  Social and political revolutions are fraught with unpleasant moments.  Every quest for human emancipation is filled with heartaches, setbacks, and miseries.  Yet it is what we do with the obstacles before us that changes the course of history.  We are not expected to pick up the weight of history, heave it over our shoulders, and carry it to the place it belongs.  We are nudgers.  We push and pull at the current and help shape its path.  You feel that impulse in your soul, don’t you?  That’s because God is nudging each one of us, too.

There’s a reason why so many warriors come home from battle and struggle with depression.  When engaged in combat, they have a mission before them and a military family to protect.  They have people who depend upon them.  They have purpose.  And sometimes returning home means physical safety comes at the cost of that spiritual purpose.  When you look around at society today, you can see that this is a problem that affects more than returning service members.  Americans are lost and lonely and experiencing that excruciating pain that torments souls bereft of purpose.  Society suffers because false prophets have demanded that individual consciences be amputated for the “greater good.”

Do not be discouraged.  This is the golden hour when dormant consciences come roaring back to life.  It is an era such as our forefathers experienced, when the quiet burbles for liberty raged into a rippling boil.  It is a time to be tested, to find God, and to answer new callings.  It is a moment in History that is pregnant with purpose.  We are privileged to be alive.

Image: Lyza via Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

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