Whether you look at the Grammy Awards, the stock market, or what was said (or not said) in the State of the Union Address, it was a very depressing week for the moral, financial, and political condition of our country.
Fortunately, there’s another place we can look if we’re trying to find a reason for optimism and a basis for real hope and change.
Picture yourself in the shoes of the apostle John when he was exiled on the Island of Patmos. Not only were his personal circumstances bleak, but God was showing him disturbing things about the condition of the churches of his day. Have you ever felt that way?
In Revelation 2 and 3, Christ showed John churches that had left their first love, allowed false teachers, or become dead, arrogant, or lukewarm. It must have been depressing to see churches in such a dire condition, and it wasn’t even the end of the first century yet.
The book of Revelation would go on to unfold horrific snapshots of persecution, famine, warfare, turbulence in the natural realm, cosmic disturbances, and epic spiritual conflicts on the world stage.
Yet amid all of these dark clouds, John found a ray of hope and a ground for optimism:
After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.” Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne (Revelation 4:1-2).
What fantastic news! No matter how distressing things may look on the world stage or the condition of the church, there is One sitting on heaven’s throne!
But notice that not everyone saw this scene. Some, no doubt, were earthbound, only able to see things from an earthly perspective. How depressing.
However, like John, God is calling us to look past the disturbing earthly events around us and peer through the “door standing open in heaven.” He is beckoning us to “come up here” so we can gain His hopeful, victorious perspective on how all of this will turn out in the end.
The good news is that our ultimate victory is not in doubt. The marriage feast has already been scheduled, and the theme song will be one of triumph rather than defeat: “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!” (Revelation 19:6-7)
Today we may sometimes feel like boxers, bloody and sore amid a long and arduous fight against the enemy. But when the final bell rings or final trumpet sounds, we’ll hear loud voices proclaiming that it was worth it all: “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” (Revelation 11:15)
Yes, we living in prophetic times when “darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people,” but that’s not the end of the story: “The LORD will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you…Then you shall see and become radiant, and your heart shall swell with joy…and I will glorify the house of My glory” (Isaiah 60:1-7).
You see, we have reason for optimism today. No matter how things may look around us, we can be stirred to action by God’s prophetic encouragement of encouragement: “Arise, shine; for your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.”
It’s not time to quit. Let’s get up. Arise. Shine. And overcome the darkness with light.