Can this be?

A friend gave me a book to read. Over the years, I’ve grown to be leery of these “Hey, you gotta read this!” books. In my opinion, never known to be particularly humble, there are many people who grab hold of a part of the truth and then run with it, reaching some outrageous conclusion or another. To do that, they need to ignore the other parts of the same truth which, if you pay attention to those parts, would lead you to a much less outrageous destination. As Florence Littauer once famously said, “Why let the facts ruin a good story?”

And so, when Ken pressed this book into my hand, I resolved to hang on to it for a month or two, and then return it with the lame, but ever-safe, shoulder shrug and, “Sorry, man, I just didn’t have time to get to it.” But something happened. I glanced at the portion he wanted me to read, and the glance led to a turn of the page. And another. And another. Soon, I couldn’t put it down.

The book? The Harbinger, by Jonathan Cahn, who apparently leads a religious ministry of mainly Jewish origins in New Jersey.

What got me so hooked? The fact that Mr. Cahn pieced together obscure pieces of factually documented history in a way I’ve never seen it done, to stunning effect. He did it by writing a fictional account of someone who had dreams and encountered a prophet of some sort, who kept stringing him along to find these obscure facts. The whole thing has a strong air of mysticism about it. That usually doesn’t bode well for me and a book, because my brain is too easily enticed to tear the shrouds away from mysteries and mystics. It’s too easy to come up with something that sounds plausible, and then build an entire fantasy on that wispy foundation. How many people have proclaimed they know the date of the Lord’s return, only to have that date pass and life continue as before?

But this guy is different. The presentation may be mystical, but his facts aren’t.

Which facts?

For starters, both the 2001 and 2008 stock market crashes happened on Elul the 29th on the Jewish calendar. That happened to be the Hebrew date of Shemitah —  seven years apart. It’s the Lord’s command to have a sabbath year every 7th year. Those happened to fall on 2001 and 2008. A stock market crash doesn’t happen on a single day, but in both instances, the events of those days were pivotal:

  • In 2001, the stock market opened after 6 days, having been closed in the aftermath of 9/11. When it opened, the market instantly collapsed.
  • In 2008, the biggest drop of the Dow (777 points for the mystics out there) happened on 29 Elul.

The author’s premise is the Lord says His nation must wipe away all debts on 29 Elul every 7th year. The nation of Israel, as we know, didn’t keep the sabbath year (Shemitah) command for 490 years, so the Lord took it from them with the 70 year exile in Babylon. The author construes the meltdowns of 2001 and 2008 as a similar involuntary wiping out of debt. In my opinion, that’s a bit of a reach, because by no means was all debt wiped away. Some people we would call innocent got hammered hard, and others whom we could call infidels got off lightly. But the fact that a lot of wealth did get wiped away on the two 29 Elul dates is inescapable.

There’s another problem: the crash before 2001 didn’t happen 7 years prior — it was closer to 10 years. Therefore, the premise that stock market crashes happen only on 29 Elul of Shemitah years (every 7th) doesn’t hold up if you go beyond the two specific cases of 2001 and 2008. For instance, 1929’s market crash didn’t happen in a shemitah year.

So… the facts don’t totally support an unqualified acceptance that the two wipe-outs were as absolute as Israel’s exile to Babylon, but it was close enough to keep me engaged.

Especially when he married a specific (though obscure) scripture and more facts.

The Pivot

The pivot around which the entire story is built is an obscure passage: Isaiah 9:10 and 11. Here’s the passage in broader context (NKJV, underline added):

8 The Lord sent a word against Jacob, And it has fallen on Israel.
9 All the people will know— Ephraim and the inhabitant of Samaria—
Who say in pride and arrogance of heart:
10 “The bricks have fallen down, But we will rebuild with hewn stones;
The sycamores are cut down, But we will replace them with cedars.”
11 Therefore the Lord shall set up The adversaries of Rezin against him, And spur his enemies on,
12 The Syrians before and the Philistines behind; And they shall devour Israel with an open mouth.
For all this His anger is not turned away, But His hand is stretched out still.
13 For the people do not turn to Him who strikes them, Nor do they seek the Lord of hosts.
14 Therefore the Lord will cut off head and tail from Israel, Palm branch and bulrush in one day.

The attitude behind the declaration in verse 10 is defiance. The Lord (as we know) often brings calamity to bring His nation to repentance. In this instance, the accusation of the Lord to the leaders of Israel, through the prophet Isaiah, is that the rulers reacted not with repentance, but defiance, in effect saying to the Lord: “no matter what You bring against us, we can take care of ourselves, and we will.” Dangerous words.

The author then goes back and draws out quotes from American presidents. After 9/11, Pres. Bush says, “We will rebuild!” Those exact three words. And Pres. Obama, upon taking office (and referring to the economic devastation of the Great recession) says, “We will rebuild.” Those three words are buried in the middle of his address, but, when they had to pick a headline to report the address, all the media, from the New York Times to Al Jazeera, as if by some unseen hand, picked the three words from Isaiah 9:10.

Like I said, I’m no mystic, but even I had to raise my eyebrows at that “coincidence.”

History

nyse gwThen the author gets into deep history. George Washington was invested as the first President of the USA on April 20, 1789. There’s a statue of Mr. Washington on the exact spot where he gave his inauguration address, and this photograph shows just how close that is to the present New York Stock Exchange. Are you getting goose bumps yet?

It gets better. See his right hand? Palm down — that was his hand as he put it on the Bible. You can read his inauguration speech here. (God bless the internet.) In it, he states that the guiding light of the new country must be God: “there is no truth more thoroughly established, than that there exists in the economy and course of nature, an indissoluble union between virtue and happiness… the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained…”

And then he closes by declaring God to be “the benign parent of the human race, in humble supplication that since he has been pleased to favour the American people… so his divine blessing may be equally conspicuous in the … measures on which the success of this Government must depend.”

The author takes that stand and those words to be almost the same as what Solomon uttered at the dedication of the temple — in other words, a dedication of the new nation to God.

The very first act of Congress under the new President was to walk a few steps to St. Paul’s chapel… to dedicate the new nation to God in prayer.

That’s right: the first official act of the first constituted Congress of America was “Let’s pray.” Regardless of your religious persuasion, that is a fact, well documented. St. Paul’s chapel still is there, right across Church Street from the World Trade Center.

st pauls chapel ny2

Back then, that real estate apparently was part of the St. Paul’s chapel grounds. Therefore, Ground Zero is where the new nation of America was dedicated.

Drawing a mystical connection (or not) between the 9/11 act of terrorism and the prayer of dedication on pretty much the same spot is of course up to you. The author does this with great abandon. He offers up the evidence that the chapel itself was protected from the extensive damage it could have suffered when the towers collapsed, given its incredibly close proximity to the mayhem and destruction. The St. Paul’s Wikipedia site says, “The church survived without even a broken window. Church history declares it was spared by a miracle sycamore on the northwest corner of the property that was hit by debris.”

The sycamore was destroyed in the intense blast from the towers’ collapse, sparing the chapel. They planted a new tree in its place, a spruce. Read the second part of Isaiah 9:10 again. Not exactly a cedar, but a conifer like it. Mystics will see a connection, left brain geeks will say close, but no cigar. Either way, you have to concede: it’s interesting at the very least.

The author (obviously) doesn’t cover my interest, which is: when’s the next Shemitah? The year runs from Sept. 25, 2014 through Sept. 13, 2015. So the last day of the next Sabbath year will be September 13, 2015.

But wait, there’s more. This website provides the reasoning why the year from Sept 2015 to Sept 2016 would be a jubilee year. There appears some disagreement over whether the jubilee cycle these days is 50 years or 49 years (the latter maintaining that jubilee only applies when the entire old land of Israel is occupied by Israel).

What do you think we should do about all of this?

Pebbles to Campfires

Goliath learned it the hard way: pebbles kill. As he crumpled to the ground, he couldn’t tell: was it the skill of the trash talking youth or his God’s divine intervention that did him in?

In a management training session long ago, our instructor made the statement that success is opportunity and preparation meeting each other on the same side of the street. The more we prepare, the more success we achieve. How true is that in our spiritual lives? How much of our success comes from our preparation and how much from God’s sovereign move? On one hand, we can point to the Lord sovereignly performing miracles, and on the other hand we can see the diligent lifetimes of people like Billy Graham and Mother Theresa. But what about me? If I want to bring revival to my community, how much do I do and how much do I step aside and let the Lord do?

Let’s take a longer look at David’s legendary victory over Goliath. What would we have done after a major victory like that? We probably would have published a book or two, had several articles in Christian magazines and interviews on Christian networks, and perhaps even have ended up starting a new denomination, something called God’s First Sling Church, complete with its own Slinger School and Seminary. Every disciple would be trained in the use of their slings. When you encounter your next giant, you gotta be prepared! We may have developed different types of sling: the nursery sling toy, the Trainer Sling, the Warrior Sling and for the prize winning slingers, the Expert Sling. We’d have an annual Slinger National Christian Conference with several satellite MiniSling conferences. No giant would stand a chance against our ranks of slingers.

How much of that did David do? Did he start his own Slinger Squad? No, he didn’t. David never used his sling again. Rather than enshrining a dramatic  miracle into a formula, he reached forward to what lay ahead, as Paul described it a few centuries later. Unskilled in the art of war, he abandoned the sling, left behind his shepherd days and entered the army as a rookie. It’s not hard to imagine that he was a cocky kid when we listen to what his brothers said and even to what he said as he approached Goliath. Nevertheless, he humbled himself and continued his preparation, learning conventional warfare from the ground up. With his growing military skill and confidence (let’s be kind and call it that) he earned the respect of the men around him and his rise through the ranks was popular and fast. In short order, he became possibly the youngest general Israel ever had. By then, his shepherd days were a dim memory, and his sling lay forgotten at the bottom of his weapon box like one of Andy’s toys in Toy Story. He had become the nation’s hero, the slayer of tens of thousands, and the king’s son-in-law. His preparation for the throne, to all appearances, was complete.

Appearances deceive. David’s preparation had not even reached the halfway mark. He authored the first phase, from shepherd to general. Just when David thought he was done preparing, the Lord took over. With no warning, David’s life fell apart through no fault of his own. The God to whom David sang all those praise psalms in the sheep pasture, the One who gave him success and favor, seemed to vanish from his life. David had no choice but to run. While running for more than a decade, we can see how his cockiness gradually gave way to a humble confidence. His psalms of this period reveal that the Lord of his youth was still with him and still loved him. His circumstances were dramatically different, but his God was still the same… and in control.

We know the end of David’s story. In his changing circumstances, we can see how the Lord prepared him for the opportunity He had waiting for him. David’s preparation was to watch sheep, praise the Lord, fight lions and bears, and learn how to use the sling. God’s preparation was humility, learning conventional warfare, and learning leadership and patience in adversity. God’s preparation was a lot tougher than David’s, but much more valuable once David stepped into his destiny as Israel’s greatest king.

What was David’s role during the time of God’s preparation? He had to keep running to survive. That might sound nonspiritual, but it was all that was required of him. In the evenings, though, he could build a camp fire, relax in the love surrounding him, and praise the Lord. Fleeing and building campfires, that’s all he needed to do. God and time were taking care of the rest. David even made a few mistakes along the way, but none of those mattered.

Do you feel like David on the run? You think you have a calling, and you may even have seen some progress, but somehow have things stalled out, if not fallen apart? Do you wonder if your card might have accidentally fallen out of God’s Rolodex? Do you wonder if you are “missing it?” Does it seem that sheer survival has become so consuming, the persecution so relentless, that your calling, even the kingdom of God itself, has faded to a distant chimera? (Your daily word to look up.)

Relax. We can take heart from David’s story. God never abandoned him. If we search after the Lord like David did, He will direct our paths. While running to just survive, we still have those campfire moments to soak in the love around us and praise the Lord. Let’s relax and enjoy those, and let the Lord take care of the rest. He does such a good job!

What about David?

It didn’t happen on purpose. When I started the blog, I had no intention of writing a post every day (except Sundays) but it just worked out that way. Neither did I intend to write as much about our imperfection as I did. Maybe it’s the time of year. Isn’t January always the month of New Years Resolutions? And is there anything that drives home our imperfection as much as New Years Resolutions? It’s simple, really: if we weren’t imperfect, we’d never have New Years Resolutions, would we? Whatever the reason may be, here we are, conscious of our imperfection, but reminded that God is totally unfazed by any of our imperfections.

And we need that reminder, don’t we? We somehow believe God is waiting for us to achieve a state of beautiful perfection before he opens his filing cabinet to retrieve his plans for our lives. Isn’t our imperfection the reason why we’ve been so use-less so far? The answer is no, that’s not the reason. God’s plans for our lives have already been taken out of the cabinet. They’re spread out on the table, and God is waving us over to come and take a look and a listen.

Why have I taken so long to punch in and get to work in God’s kingdom? Yep, it’s that perfection thing. I’m not perfect, and therefore God has to take a deep sigh, sit down heavily, roll his eyes, pour Himself a cup of coffee and drum his fingers on the table, wondering when.ever.is.this.doofus.going.to.get.his.stinking.act.together??? At least that’s what I think. Is that what you perhaps think?

Think again. Who in the Bible are the giants, the ones through whom God accomplished the most? David is close to the top of that list, isn’t he? I just finished the history of David in my through the Bible journey, and I am struck by his, well, imperfection. We all know about Bathsheba-gate, and that’s not what I’m talking about, bad as it is. There’s a whole lot more where that came from. David’s oldest son raped his half-sister, and David did nothing about it. He didn’t protect Tamar (incidentally, named after a forebear who was also maltreated) and he didn’t punish Amnon. Not good. This opened the door for Absalom to exact justice, and David didn’t punish him for that either. Not good. When Absalom was allowed back in the palace, David was passive-aggressive and wouldn’t talk to him for two years. Not good.

Lest someone be tempted to pin these events to the punishment God promised David, let’s look at David’s earlier days. When he fled from Saul the first time, he stopped at Nob and lied to the priest to get food. Not good. He then continued his journey to the land of the enemy. There, he pretended to be crazy when they investigated him further. Not good. While his actions toward Saul certainly were noble, his reaction after the second time he saved Saul’s life wasn’t. First, he accused God of not being true to His promise (“Saul will certainly kill me”). Then he went (again) to the land of the Philistines. Not good. There, he murdered entire villages, women and children included, and lied to his ruler about it. Seriously not good. When he eventually was made king, he betrayed his cousin, Joab, who served David faithfully and competently, by giving his job to Abner while he was away, serving David. No integrity there. Integrity would have dictated that he talk to Joab first, but David simply was a wuss in personal relationships. He did the same thing again a few years later. After Joab rescued David from Absalom (who only dishonored him and wanted to kill him) David gave his job to another cousin, Amasa. Again, no integrity, and certainly no gratitude. Those were but a few examples to prove the point: David is down there in imperfection with you and I.

And yet, as we all know, God called David a man after his own heart. And God certainly gave David a lot of success, militarily and as a ruler.  Why is that? David’s heart was after God when he was a shepherd in the field. His heart was after God when he fled from Saul. His heart was after God when he became king. And his heart was after God when he messed up. His heart was always after God. Anyone doubting this need only read a few Psalms. That was the key. That is what God wants more than anything else: a heart after Him.

God, to achieve the purposes of His kingdom, needs hearts after Him. That’s all. He does the rest. No perfection required, only pursuit after Him. In fact, the purpose of our imperfection is to drive us closer to Him. It’s the enemy who wants to use our imperfection to put distance between us and our Father. Who do we listen to?

When we pursue God, our hearts are after Him, after His own heart. And isn’t that what God called David: a man after His own heart?

It only took me 60 years to get this. How long is it going to take you?

Sunrise over Mt. Baker, Victoria, BC

Who is responsible?

I was reviewing the Biblical history of Israel, and, frankly, it’s not that pretty.

  • 450 years in Egypt: no leader, no record of good leadership or worship
  • 40 years in the desert: unnecessary because of unbelief
  • 350 years era of the Judges: everyone followed their own way (except for a few interventions)
  • 40 years of King Saul: not the highlight of their history
  • 40 years with King David: in many ways the highlight of their history
  • 40 years with Solomon: in other ways their highlight
  • 350 years of divided kingdom, 10 tribes permanently apostate, 2 tribes with ups and downs
  • 70 years of exile
  • 430 silent years
  • 100 years New Testament times

And then Titus invaded Jerusalem, sacked it and dispersed the Jews (again). (All the dates are approximate and rounded, just to give a rough idea of the time scale.)

The nation followed the Lord in unity for only the reigns of David and Solomon — 80 years out of 1,900 (give or take). In all, hardly a stellar record.

But that isn’t what interested me. What really started it for me was the temple. The temple Solomon built, the grand one detailed in several chapters of the Bible, didn’t even last one generation. The Egyptians came in the reign of Solomon’s son (Rehoboam) and ransacked the temple. It was almost as if the paint hadn’t even dried properly yet. When I read this recently, my heart was just so sad. All this money, planning and resources spent on something to glorify the Lord, and He didn’t even protect it for a single full generation. Wow.

I thought about this for quite a few days. Without verbalizing it, I was questioning the Lord, and in particular His not supporting or protecting His beautiful house. I mean, if He didn’t protect Solomon’s temple, what makes me think He will protect His church in our day? And if He’s not even going to protect His house, how can I expect Him to protect my house? The first question is interesting; the last one is personal.

After a few days, I felt the Lord ask me a question back. What about the ark of the covenant? Did the ark last any longer? Did He ever protect it? As I looked into it, the differences were startling:

God commissioned and designed the ark. He never commissioned the temple; that was David’s idea. In fact, the Lord gave the idea a lukewarm reception. David had the best of intentions, to be sure, but God never ordered the temple. He definitely ordered the ark, though, with detailed specifications.

God protected the ark, and fiercely so. We all recall when the Philistines captured the ark and how the Lord made them return it in short order. The Lord dealt well with those who treated it respectfully (Obed-Edom) and harshly with those who didn’t, even among the Levites.

The ark survived intact from the time it was commissioned until God finally gave Judah over to the Babylonian exile. The temple in Jerusalem also survived, but not in the same glory as that which was dedicated to the Lord in that impactful ceremony.

And, finally, consider the usefulness for the average Israelite. People could enter the temple every now and then, but NOBODY ever saw the ark, except the High Priest and that only once a year. So, from a human standpoint, the temple appears to have had a greater utility for worship than the ark. But… the ark was God’s idea and the temple was man’s idea. One lasted a lot longer than the other, and that had nothing to do with how useful it appeared to be for man.

What’s the point of this comparison? God will protect, even prosper, what He ordains, commissions, promises, designs or implements. As for what we build, there is (as noted in the Ishmael post) nothing wrong with that, but it will last only as long as we can protect it.

What’s more, God made a covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, knowing full well how imperfect Israel was going to be. The imperfection of the national history of Israel is staggering, but God, knowing the future was not looking for perfection in selecting His covenant partner. He was looking for the miracle birth, and that’s all. That tells me that I don’t need to be perfect to be a covenant partner with the Lord. I only need to be of miracle birth, as in born again. Perfection is not required at all, not of myself and neither of my brothers and sisters. Not now, and not in the future. That is just an amazing thought, and so encouraging!

When we serve the Lord, we serve Him best when He sets it all up.

Setting Out, Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe

What About Ishmael?

When you hear the word Ishmael, is your first reaction positive or negative? I confess mine was the latter… until I actually read the history closer. The facts unfold as follows, beginning in Genesis 16. Hagar gets pregnant and despises Sarai, her boss. Sarai so mistreats her that she flees. The Lord intercepts her, sends her back to Sarai with the admonition to submit. And then God tells Hagar the name she is to give the son in her womb: Ishmael, which means “God will Hear.” God Himself names the child and it is a nice name. The Lord then proceeds to pronounce good things over Ishmael.

Hmm… nothing negative so far. The Lord continues in Genesis 17:20, when Abraham laughed at God’s promise of a son through Sarah. When the name of Ishmael comes up, the Lord clearly and specifically says, “And as for Ishmael, I have heard you. Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall beget twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation.”

What a strong endorsement from the Lord!  God clearly doesn’t hate Ishmael. Several years passed and Isaac arrived as promised. In Chapter 21, Abraham makes a feast for Isaac’s weaning, where Hagar ticks her boss off again, for which Sarah tells Abraham to fire her on the spot. Abraham demurs, but God tells Abraham to listen to his wife. (Yes, the Bible really says that in 21:12.) Then the Lord confirms, yet again, that He is going to make Ishmael into a great nation.

This is now the third time God had only positive things to say over Ishmael. I never realized how many times the Lord spoke positively about Ishmael. Abraham listened to the Lord and Sarah, and sent Hagar and Ishmael off with a good supply of food and water. The food and water ran out while they were still in the desert. “This is it,” Hagar thought and placed the fourteen year old in the shade of some greenery. Because she didn’t want to see or hear him die, she went to sit down about a hundred yards or so from him. There, she simply burst into tears and cried. She didn’t do anything religious like pray or cry out to God; she simply wept at her misfortune.

Suddenly and miraculously, God appeared. The last time they met, He reminded Hagar, He told her  to submit herself to Sarah. She didn’t obey, and so she got herself fired because of her snippy attitude. What did she expect? She had reaped what she sowed, God said, and so she had to pull herself together, get over Ishmael, find another job and get on with her life. And next time, be a doer of the word, not a hearer only, or pay the price again.

No, that’s not what happened at all. God told Hagar not to be afraid; both she and the lad would survive and, indeed, prosper. And then God said it one more time: He will bless Ishmael and make him a great nation.

Four times God had His opinion about Ishmael recorded, and each time it was nothing but positive. Like most Christians, I’ve heard several sermons about Ishmael, but none of them echo God’s four-time endorsement of the man.

Where does all this negativity about Ishmael come from, then? The answer is found in Genesis 17:21, right after the second time God said good things about Ishmael. God follows up His endorsement of Ishmael with “…but My covenant I will establish with Isaac…”

Nothing wrong with Ishmael, but Isaac is the one with whom God chose to covenant. What is so different about Isaac? Simply put, Isaac was a miracle baby, the son God intended to use. Abraham and Sarah added Ishmael by themselves. Ishmael was the result of human effort; Isaac came, supernaturally, from God. We know the end of the story. Like all nations on earth, Ishmael’s descendants moved or became assimilated, and gradually ceased to exist as a specific nation. Nothing evil, just the normal flow of the natural. Isaac’s descendants, on the other hand, are still around as a nation. God called them into being supernaturally, and no normal flow of natural events will erase what God creates.

The distinction between Ishmael and Isaac, therefore, is not that one is bad and one is good. It’s that one is of the flesh and one is of the Spirit. Until we are born again, we are of the flesh. However, when we are born again, we are miracle born, because as John 3 tells us, this is a birth in the Spirit.

We can do things in the kingdom of God either in the natural or in the supernatural. Nothing wrong with the natural, that’s important to note. But God’s covenant blessing won’t rest on those things. If the human effort is good, the results will be good, but once the human leader(s) move on, the work will dissipate.

When God calls forth something as He called forth Isaac, and we wait for Him to do what he promised, in His way and in His time, that work will last forever, because that no longer is our work but His. If we want our work in the kingdom of God to last, it’s important to ask: am I doing this in the supernatural or the natural?

Nothing wrong with the natural, but only the supernatural will last.

Course Correction Ahead?

Over lunch with a friend today, the topic turned to the cruise ship which sank a couple of weeks ago on Friday the 13th. One hundred years after the Titanic went under in 1912, the Costa Concordia sank a few hundred feet off the coast of an Italian island. A simple Google search will yield a plethora of images of the gigantic cruise ship on its side in shallow water.

(Source: Wikipedia Commons)

What a Google search won’t yield is why this accident happened. Why, with all the technology available today, can people lose their lives, and a gigantic vessel sink in sight of land? The answer, as with the Titanic disaster, seems to revolve around a sense that technology makes us invincible. We take less care. The Titanic was reportedly considered unsinkable, and today’s cruise ships have GPS and all manner of other navigation technology. Surely that makes us safe, right?

That thought got us talking. And talking. The restaurant emptied around us, and filled again with the next crowd. Our wives eventually came searching for us and, after ordering another round of refreshments, we all talked some more.

In the 100 years since the Titanic sank, technology and human thought have progressed like never before in earth’s history. But what impact has all this innovation had on us as humans, and on that nebulous concept called quality of life? We have more broken families, teen pregnancies and single moms than at any time in human history (other than possibly after a war). Sure, they have smartphones, iPads, iPods and laptops, and they Tweet, Facebook and email, and many even meet at Starbucks for coffee. But today more kids are raised without fathers than ever before. The quality of education is declining and our prisons are overflowing like never before. Our political leaders are now regarded as lower than used car salesmen. Why has the human race regressed when technology and innovation progressed?

After gallons of ice water and a couple of shift changes at the restaurant, the consensus coalesced around a question: could it be that what ails the human race is a lack of adversity? What a disagreeable notion! But think about it: When was England’s finest hour? In the midst of the threat of annihilation in the Battle of Britain. The greatest king of Israel, David, is also the only king who had to flee and endure more than a decade of unjust persecution before ascending to his promised throne. Adversity. We know from stories our grandparents tell us how neighbors helped each other in the Great Depression. Our friends are from the Yukon Territories in Canada, and they tell us that in winter, everybody helps anyone walking or stuck along the road, no questions asked. In summer, it’s more of a hit and miss proposition, but everyone knows when it’s forty below there is no chance of survival without help, and so everyone helps. Adversity seems to bring out the best in us.

We all know the stories in the Bible when God would prosper His nation, upon which they promptly turned their backs on Him, until He sent them another round of adversity. Then they seek His face and repent, and He sets them free and prospers them again, just to start the cycle all over again. Can it be that we are repeating this cycle in our day? Can it be that what we need as a society to improve our “humanhood” is a good bout of adversity? A single mom in our church lost her apartment. Who took her in? Another single mom, someone with less than most. We see this phenomenon around us: those with less help more, are more considerate and less set on their own comforts.

Sharing, they call it, caring. In times of adversity, there seems to be more caring and sharing, it seems. When we are doing well, and are loaded with techno-goodies, our focus turns inward, not outward. When times are tough, those things suddenly lose their importance. Caring and sharing miraculously blossom.

So… could it be that adversity of some form will bring out less of the bad in us and more of the good? Not saying, just asking.