Farm in Tuscany

“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
 a light has dawned.”

 (Isaiah 9:2)

It’s no secret that our country is facing a crisis Christmas this year. We are being swamped with stories of failing infrastructure, a fractured parliament and a fragile economy. Coffee shop conversations are notably pessimistic.

It is true that media negativity tends to overshadow the many positive aspects of our country. There really is much to give thanks for.  Our churches continue to enjoy freedom to preach the message of Jesus without censure and people are coming to know Christ.  Many people are also making headway and even progress in globally difficult times. Tourists are still flocking to our beaches and families are still filling shopping malls.

Nevertheless there are very real problems in our country and we are being tested by a myriad of challenges.  Its concerning particularly to see the unwise responses people are making in these difficult days. Debt is crippling families and moral decay is disintegrating them. Very little godly behavior is evident and many believers seem to lack Biblical maturity.

How can we as God’s people respond to our current state of affairs?

Firstly we must pray.  God has ordained that the prayers of His people are part of the cogs and wheels of His sovereign plan. We must particularly pray for our country and its leaders (1Tim 2:1,2).  If Africa is to be saved, we must pray without ceasing.

Secondly we must trust. Jesus warned that trials would see people falling away from the faith (Mark 4:17).  We also know that hard times are the fires that test the authenticity of our faith (1 Peter 1:7).  Therefore we ought not to be those who shrink back but those who persevere through trials by faith (Heb.10:38,39).  This is the time to stand firm in the faith.

Thirdly we must act.  Faith is not a noun, it’s a verb.  Faith works.  If we are truly trusting in Christ it will be seen in obedient action.  It is no coincidence that God has placed you where you are for such a time as this.  So be the Christian, make good moral decisions, be ethical in business and willingly serve others out of obedience to Christ.

Lastly we must not be fooled into thinking that this year’s crisis is anything unusual. Every Christmas, from the 1st to the 21st century has been celebrated in the context of crisis.  Our world is broken by sin and the messy state of affairs is the visible evidence.  The ultimate crisis our rebellious world faces is its pending appointment at the judgement seat of God. This, in fact, is the very reason Christmas happened in the first place. Jesus is the Light of hope that has shone into our dark world of crisis.  His death and resurrection brings forgiveness and restored relationship to all who turn and trust in the Light of the World. Nothing else in your life is worth putting right if this is not put right first.

For God’s people, the current crisis should spur us on to share this good news all the more urgently this Christmas . . . even if we have to do it in candlelight !