Don’t pine for the ‘good old days’ that never were

When the acorn dropped on Chicken Little’s head, she ran around crying out, “The sky is falling, the sky is falling!”

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And to read the news of the world in these days, we might agree. The sluggish economy of Wall Street, the political comedy that is Washington and the changing cultural tides might lead one to believe that hope is lost, we have left the slippery slope and gone into free fall. The conservatives and liberals blame each other, the media capitalizes on our collective fears and global warming is going to drown us all. The sky is falling.0417FAITH-TEASER

A few of my ministry colleagues have taken advantage of these difficult days to amplify their own voices, pointing to the prophecies, warning of the imminent disaster, and contributing a dose of religious indignation to the cultural confusion. The world is bad and getting worse, the sky is falling and it must be someone else’s fault.

On the surface of our circumstances, we do live in troubled times. Life is in a continual cycle of upheaval and the world is changing around us. There is great uncertainty and concern for the world that our children will inherit, there are acts of violence, wars and trouble at every turn. There is no doubt about the reality of the world, and the challenges we face are complicated and divisive.

The human race must have a very short mutual memory. We talk about the “good old days” as though the previous generations lived lives of ease and calm, that peace was the order of the day and the world never faced a single shadow of trouble. Surely, when I was a child, the world was full of sunshine and hope and never a raindrop fell. No tragedies could have happened in those good old days, because the world was so much better a place.

Well, except for Vietnam, when those brave men died. And that cousin of mine that died in a drug overdose. And Watergate. Maybe I need to go back to my parents or grandparents generation to find the really good old days. Like World War II. Or the Great Depression. Or the Civil War. Or before there was indoor plumbing or electric lights. I am sure that everything was wonderful back then.

Everywhere you point to in human history, there have been tragedies, wars, social upheavals and predictions of the end of civilization. It is part of our existence of humanity. Life is hard and unpredictable because that is the nature of life. Some days are filled with grief and pain, some bring joy and grace and every day brings a bit of each. We tend to gloss over the hardships in our memory and remember the best bits. But I am not so sure that these days are better or worse than any other days. Jesus said, “Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

The Bible prophecies the end of time and the return of Christ at some point in the uncertain future, and no one knows the hour of the day (Matthew 24:36). I have no doubt that someday, sooner or later, that will be fulfilled. And there is nothing that the human race can do to hasten or delay God’s timing, so why is that a concern of ours?

Do you remember what happened to Chicken Little? In her haste to warn the world of the impending disaster, she created her own tragedy. Go look the story up again and be reminded that unfounded fear and worry generate their own kind of hurts.

Instead of fretting that today is worse than yesterday, worrying about the sky falling on me and pointing out the horror of our modern world, my plan is to make today as good as I can within my circle of influence. If I can bring a little hope, comfort and courage to those around me, a small part of the world will be better. Will it solve the problems of all the earth? No, I am sure that it will not. But neither will the sky fall on my head while I am doing so.

— The Rev. Brian Hotaling is the senior pastor at Charles Town Baptist Church, 211 E. Congress St., Charles Town. Services are held on Sunday at 8:30 and 11 a.m., Wednesdays at 7 p.m.

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