These are dark days we live in without a doubt. There is trouble within the church and without, a general acceptance of sin and a general ignorance of the Word of God. There is even a distaste for the Scripture, a belief that it is not relevant or that we have to, in some new way, make relevant ancient and unshakable principals that have existed long before pop culture was born and will stand long after its demise. This modern era boasts a short-sightedness and a hedonism that sometimes seems unprecedented until history is examined and it is found that such conditions often occurred in ancient empires before they fell. It sometimes seems that we humans, while preoccupied with obtaining wealth and privilege, do not actually handle the realization of it well. I wonder...Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.Psalms 73:1-3
These things are no surprise to the student of the Holy Writ. Jesus Himself taught that there would be wars, natural disasters, and conflict leading up to the last days, saying also that, "And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold." (Matthew 24:10-12).
Paul warns Timothy that there will be "...times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people." (2 Timothy 3:1-5) He also talks of people surrounding themselves with teachers that say what they like to hear.
It is not news to the humble student of God's Word that it often does not say what we like to hear! However, in it and through it all, we see the goodness, purity, and holiness of our great and mighty God, and so we love it even when it makes us uncomfortably aware of our own folly and failures. We love it because His love is greater.
All this darkness, all the relentless and insidious attempts to chip away and diminish the Truth and to besmirch the character of my God can sometimes feel overwhelming. I have found that, in times of personal passionate resistance to the wrongs I see about me, my steps do almost slip. I feel envy that the arrogant and those who malign the Word of God seem to prosper and thrive. Turning my thoughts away from contemplation of my God, I find my feet quickly wander to a slippery slope of concern for the Church that quickly becomes worry, doubt, insecurity... any number of incorrect mental attitudes.
They scoff and speak with malice; loftily they threaten oppression. They set their mouths against the heavens, and their tongue struts through the earth. Therefore his people turn back to them, and find no fault in them. And they say, "How can God know? Is there knowledge in the Most High?" Behold, these are the wicked; always at ease, they increase in riches. All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence. For all the day long I have been stricken and rebuked every morning.Psalms 73:8-14
How easily do I slip into this same mode of thinking that David writes of, this utterly ridiculous mode of self-pity! And yet I do... I have a great passion for the Word and love for the Author of it, and I hold His truths to be absolute. Yet at times, I find that my focus shifts from Him onto the problems, the toils, the corruption, or innumerable other distractions. At times the storm seems to me greater than my God.
But it is not.
But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end. Truly you set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin.
When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward you. Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. For behold, those who are far from you shall perish; you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you. But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.