If 2014 treated you harshly, you are not alone. So many solid, sincere souls echo the shared lamentation: This year was rough! Not just “I’m exhausted/disappointed/stressed out” rough – no, this was the kind of wicked, whipping torment more akin to a hurricane relentlessly pounding on people already shipwrecked, just barely holding on to the remnants of their man-made security for sheer survival.
Some of us came close to letting go. Real close. There were times when our shredded nerves believed the seducing sirens’ song long enough to find solace in the fantasy that relief was found in surrendering to the waves.
Some went under long enough for reality to drift into the distance of muffled underwater sounds. In the panic of near-drowning, they struck at the hands reaching to pull them out, until burning lungs remembered the will to live.
Afforded the privilege of intimately listening to other battered survivors, I am beginning to glimpse a pattern in the chaos. The threads of so many similar stories of personal and social upheaval blend into a tapestry woven on the loom of prophecy.
From the missing Malaysian Airliner in March to the Taliban school shooting in Pakistan this month, international headlines span from the bizarre to the tragic. At home, Ferguson tore open racial wounds, whose deep infection seems far from healing. These days, the headlines focus on speculations about cyber vulnerabilities and North Korea’s ability to curb our freedom of speech. Uncharted problems of our brave new world propel us into wild territory where the scale balancing privacy and protection seems ready to collapse under its burden.
“If you think there have been more earthquakes than usual this year, you’re right. A new study finds there were more than twice as many big earthquakes in the first quarter of 2014 as compared with the average since 1979…..
But even though the global earthquake rate is on the rise, the number of quakes can still be explained by random chance, said Parsons and co-author Eric Geist, also a USGS researcher.” (http://www.livescience.com/46576-more-earthquakes-still-random-process.html)
I respectfully question the random chance theory.
All this in a year containing the first half of a tetrad (four blood moons falling on Jewish holidays) culminating in a “Shemitah” or “Year of Jubilee” – the rest-bearing final year of the seven-year agricultural cycle mandated by the Torah. (See Leviticus 25:3-4).
“So?” You ask.
Consider the last two Shemitah’s: 2001 was the year of 9/11, and in 2008, America experienced a stock market crash on September 29 when the market fell 777 points in one day. It was the greatest one-day decline in the history of Wall Street. What September 2015 will bring is the speculation of scholars and analysts, but in less than year, we will all know.
So how does any of this possibly help the soul gasping for survival?l
1. IT BRINGS PERSPECTIVE
It’s no more personal than any other seasons in history. The darkness pressing down on you isn’t yours! It is simply the season assigned to you. Historically, those who understood the times were better equipped to act accordingly and help others than those who sunk down, stuck in the “Why?” Let’s ready ourselves for the battle.
2. IT BRINGS PURPOSE
Light shines brighter in the darkness, and times of shared crisis tend to free us from the prison term of self-absorption . Though it feels deeply personal, this pressure is OURS, not just yours. Living in hurricane country has taught us that neighbors are never closer than when dealing with a storm. Once your eyes are opened to the others being battered, the prison door of your soul opens proportionally, and the fresh air of fellowship floods in.
3. IT BRINGS PEACE
Recognizing the spiritual season helps us recognize that people are not the enemy. When someone hurts, offends, or in any way lets you down, they very rarely intend it. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)
We so easily strike at friends or swat at flies instead of standing against the enemy who “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8b) Follow your King into each battle and remember who the war is against.
4. IT IGNITES PASSION
“And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” (Luke 21:25-28)
As C.S. Lewis pointed out in his classic, Mere Christianity:
“If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The Apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in:” aim at earth and you will get neither.” (Mere Christianity, p.134)
I doubt 2015 will be any easier, and I’m not sure that’s the wisest goal, anyway. But armed with an understanding of the times, we can be stronger and more fruitful – lighthouses in the storm. Together.
“I’ve been watching the skies
They’ve been turning blood red
Not a doubt in my mind anymore
There’s a storm up ahead
You’re not enough
You can’t silence my love
I’ve got doors and windows
All your dead-end fury is
You can’t silence my love”