Tumultuous times. We are living in tumultuous times. We are entangled in foreign situations that put the lives of our youth at risk. We read with shock and horror the news of violence and killing in our towns and cities. Jobs are still scarce, and our political leaders are still gridlocked. Popular culture seems intent on attacking biblical values and morality.
Yet there are wonderful things going on, too. The internet has given us access to a new world of information, social connections, and entertainment. We drive cars that are safer, more fuel efficient, and last much longer. (I recently rented a car that had bun warmers even in the back seats and headlights that dimmed automatically when they sense oncoming cars.) In my field, the wonders of Bible software and digital publishing have given me new tools I use daily and now take for granted. Medical advances have given hope in situations that were hopeless even a few years ago. The human genome project and its developments have given us the promise of fixing our bodies using genetic therapy. (Bad heart? Maybe we can use your DNA to grow a new one and replace your old one.)
Sometimes I long for the simpler, more innocent times of my childhood. But most of the time, I have no desire to go back in time. To paraphrase Dickens, this is the best of time and the worst of times.
I think that every stage of human history and progress has had this feeling. In 1930, as the Great Depression began to unleash its wrath on America, Henry Emerson Fosdick wrote a hymn that spoke to his day, and echoed this “best of times, worst of times” challenge. I have always loved this hymn and have used it as a public prayer on many occasions. Each stanza is powerful, but this one seems to fit today:
Lo! the hosts of evil ’round us,
Scorn Thy Christ, assail His ways.
From the fears that long have bound us,
Free our hearts to faith and praise.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
For the living of these days,
For the living of these days.
In these tumultuous times, may we have the wisdom and courage for the living of these days.
Nebraska Christian College