A subscriber wrote a newspaper editor, “Your newspaper is not as good as it used to be.”
The editor replied, “It never has been.” The times have never been as good as they used to be.
Take for instance the early Church, fresh from Pentecost’s Holy Spirit energized consummation. Before long, “there arose a murmuring” (Acts 6:1). Don’t forget the lying ways of Ananias and his wife Sapphira in Acts 5, and later the bickering in the church between Mrs. Euodia and Mrs. Syntyche in Philippians 4:2. Look at the later plight of the churches in ancient Ephesus, Sardis and Laodicea in Revelation 2 and 3. The times have never been as good as they used to be.
It has always been so, yet God has carried on.
During the downswing during Elisha’s time on earth, he did not ask for the return of his revered predecessor, Elijah. Nor did Elisha sigh for the good old days of Elijah. Some of us are like the frantic King Saul trying to call up departed Samuels. “What would JFK, Ronald Reagan, or ... do?” “Oh, for the time we used to have!”
Instead, Elisha cried out, “Where is the Lord God of Elijah?” (II Kings 2:14).
Emotional and spiritual stability come when we truly look to the Lord Jesus Christ and start to understand how downward trends work under God’s permission and rule. Solomon wrote in Proverbs 17:27, “A man of understanding is even-tempered,” or has a “calm spirit.”
God’s Bible calms us with the understanding that life’s ups and downs will come and go in cycles during the period of time between Christ’s coming at Christmas and his coming again to judge the ungodly. This era is called “the last days” and will be known for its “perilous seasons” according to II Timothy 3:2.
Such desperate periods of time or epochs are described in the chapter by 19 ugly conditions. These distressing seasons will come and go, though with varying degrees of danger and intensity.
It has been said that the intervening periods of relative tranquility will become less frequent and peaceful, as the literal and bodily return of Jesus Christ the Messiah draws near. So, while in the midst a downswing in the moral and spiritual climate of an age, be calmed in knowing that this, too, shall pass.
God’s insight from his Word also calms us with the understanding that life’s ups and downs come with an intended purpose or benefit. Ecclesiastes 7:10 states, “In the day of prosperity enjoy life, and in the day of adversity observe that God has made the one as well as the other, so that everyone will realize that nothing is certain in this life.” Not even gas prices are certain in this life.
The ups are for us to enjoy and praise God for his goodness mercifully showered upon us, for “He makes the sun to shine on both the good and the evil.” The downs are to stir us to think more deeply about God, life, and death. Thus, the ups and downs are for the purpose of keeping us leaning on the everlasting arms.
Such understanding calms those who have first admitted the burden of life and the need to come to the risen Christ Jesus, the God-man, and to call upon him for the saving forgiveness of their sin that his blood provided for on the cross. Such sincere surrender to and trust in Jesus Christ will lead the now-saved sinner into the calm and rest promised to all who will “come unto me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest ... you shall find rest unto your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29).
Solomon wrote, “Don’t long for ‘the good old days,’ for you don’t know whether they were any better than these” (Ecclesiastes 7:10).
Looking back to the good old days is not the way out. Looking up to the true and living God of All the Days is.