It is said that good times make men weak. The original quote is much longer from author G. Michael Hopf in his 2017 book, Those Who Remain. The entire quote is truth gold, but it is the first concept, the fact that prosperity ultimately makes men weak, that has many pondering today, including me. Never has the idea seemed more true or applicable than this year.
Without a doubt in my mind we are at a crossroads in the world, including my beloved country, the United States of America. It is a time when a large section of the world’s power is now firmly in the hands of criminals and tyrants. In the past, the world went through times like these as well, but technology plays a far larger role today, solidifying power in ways never before seen.
In a sinful world, there is something truly horrible about prosperity. This horribleness is, I think, what Jesus was referring to in the book of Mark when he said it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven. Prosperous people fall prey to the sin of pride, thinking they did everything on their own and forgetting that all they have, including their very selves, come from God. They, too, forget about their sinfulness and start thinking that somehow they can earn their way to heaven. The truth is a sinful human being can never earn his or way into heaven. It is only by the holy life, death, and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that any of us can enter heaven. But how easy in good times it is to forget this!
Salvation aside, good times are dangerous in this world for other reasons as well. They do indeed make men (and their women) weak. How easy it is to spend far too much of one’s time consuming instead of building, of devouring stories instead of creating them. In America, we are now having to remember that our freedoms are not free: they are kept only by our watchfulness and diligence, our sweat, blood, and tears. The criminals in power in this country are in power for one reason: We, as a people, were and are weak. We decided we didn’t have time to be involved in local politics and our school boards. We figured our checks and balances in governance would simply take care of themselves. Not so. We must hold our leaders’ feet to the fire. It is our duty, and I think would be so whether one lives under a king or a representative republic. But in this age of online cancelation culture, it is increasingly difficult to bring the criminals to account. Civilization itself is actually on the precipice. The criminals pushing for a one world government do not understand how far even they will fall should things continue. But maybe they do understand and maybe they are just evil enough not to care. Perhaps destroying everything is their joy. Oh, how, we have failed in keeping their power in check!
We who believe in freedom, truth, and God’s goodness, who find joy in the Lord, are now having to find new ways of getting the truth out, about what’s going on, about the dangers of vaccines, about, well, everything. We haven’t yet reached a point in which the Gospel is banned, but that won’t be far off if things continue. We don’t have to fear this, for we have God and he is certainly for us, and we know that his goal is to bring everyone to faith and salvation in him. How I long to have everything better again, everything good again. But then, then we would all become weak again. It is simply human nature. So now I pray for better times, but not too good of times that we lose sight of what’s really important. God is teaching us so many important lessons through all of this.
It is embarrassing just how weak we have been and still are. Evil only got this far because of us. God allowed it to take advantage of our weakness. But God’s goal is the same as always: Love. He wishes for us to turn to him and remember how much he loves us and how much we need him. He wishes for all men to be strong again, finding their strength in him alone. For those not afraid to face what’s coming, they are already changing, becoming stronger men and women. They are finding ways to get the truth out and the courage to speak it. They are finding that a job is less important than the truth and being able to make one’s own decisions in life. They are finding that being healthy is more important than being wealthy. They are learning not to trust the evil powers that be, but to trust in the Creator God. They are building new businesses and social platforms outside of the mainstream, parallel economies, and new, better ways of life. They are becoming “good” again. And so, if enough men do this, perhaps we shall have good times again. But, as good times make weak men and weak men make bad times, I, again, hope and pray our success and prosperity only goes so far. I pray we may have enough trouble and adversity to keep us sober minded and alert. I pray we keep that incentive to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the forefront of our hearts and minds until we breathe our last breaths. It’s strange to be thinking this way, to be praying this way, but if 2020 brought out the clarity of lies to many people, so 2021 is now the year to act on that. To pray in alliance with God’s will and God’s purposes, not our own any longer.
Even in these crazy times of 2021, with so much rampant stealing of public funds, of lying to the public about sickness and health, even with so many being forced out of great jobs, the majority of us may still have it too good to wake up to the truth of what’s happening around us. How many still think that the events around them won’t eventually touch them and affect their lives? How many still foolishly trust that the Godless authorities still have our good in mind? We are still, so, so weak, and God wants us to be strong, to be strong especially in him. And that’s not going to happen unless we face the consequences of our weakness. Weak men make bad times, often very bad times, and we may have to face truly bad times all around in the very near future. I don’t say this to scare you, and I don’t say this because I’m scared. I say this so we can prepare our minds and hearts for what’s to come. It is only faith and trust in God that will help us walk through the fire. He is our light when “all other lights go out.” Indeed, even if civilization falls, we can have some comfort in the fact that it is a civilization that has forsaken God that will fall. If we turn to and rely on him, God will bless us, will help us find a way, perhaps even to thrive, but hopefully not too well and not for too long, for it is harsh times, bad times, that spark men into becoming good and strong again. And we desperately need our men, and their women, to become strong again and to stay strong to spread that precious Word of Christ. Yet, as Christians, we do know that even in our weakness, maybe especially in our weakness, God uses us to show that he is the true power and joy of the universe.
So, although I welcome prosperity in my life and all our lives at some point, I also find it rather horrible, too.