The ‘Gloom and Doom’ Era
Recently I watched a video of a guy who was incredibly frustrated with all the ‘bad news’ in the world. He bemoaned the ‘Doom and Gloom’ era and gave his case for an ‘all-rosy’ future. He even cited the Bible as reason for his sunny outlook.
Personally, I’ve always thought of myself as an optimistic-realist. I hope for the best and enjoy the good things in life, but also don’t ignore the reality of pain and prospect of hard times. I’ve never seen the point of ignorant short-term bliss which creates dangerous naivety and woeful unpreparedness for future suffering.
It might seem like an obvious truth, but trouble comes whether we wish and believe so or not. But it’s also true that just like the saying goes, “The sun will rise tomorrow;” life holds many blessings. Even in the toughest times there’s usually good reasons to be grateful.
A historic Orchestra
A balanced view of life always seemed like the most sensible approach to me. World history has been a rhythmic and alternating blend of tough times mixed with the good. If we were to think of these times as a musical symphony, the seasons of this world have been like the sometimes ‘clashing’ sometimes ‘beautiful’ notes of a mystical orchestra trying desperately to please its sovereign Conductor.
Till an already-notorious 2020, much of our world seemed entranced by the bright cadences of our own orchestral-time. The golden lullabies of prosperity, peace and possibilities filled the air, and answers to even the toughest problems seemed within reach. To expect the opposite seemed to ignore the joyous themes of our day—what could possibly go wrong?
A dramatic change in tune
Then the discordant-clouds started to gather. Now the dark notes are becoming ominous. Suddenly the Sovereign Conductor seems to falter, and our present reality appears much greater than a ‘blip’ in our planet’s history.
And the foreboding tone grows louder.
Economic rivalries are becoming trade wars. Currencies are beginning to fail, and in countries like Venezuela and Egypt, even collapse. BREXIT has become ‘No-Exit,’ and the political world is becoming a circus.
The once indestructible value of oil has plummeted. Planes are grounded around the world, tourism is collapsing, and global macro-economic debt is skyrocketing. From nation to nation, the moral pillars of the past are quaking underneath the ravaging monsters of corruption, sexual deviance, greed and pride.
The provocateur-powers of the past are beginning to rise once again.
Russia and China’s routine surveillance jet fly-overs and ‘adventurous military escapades’ are becoming illegal territorial breaches, and in the case of the South China sea, outright takeovers. Russia’s usual posturing and empty rhetoric are giving way to action; Crimea is annexed, Ukraine and other countries increasingly subverted, and US elections undermined. Worst still, its ever-increasing military reach is no longer just for show, a sinister intent seems obvious.
Scarily, it doesn’t stop there. Act 1 in the discord of this unsettling Orchestral-symphony is becoming a heart-palpitating Act 2.
America, once an immovable beacon of hope, morality, and prosperity to the world, is becoming a melting pot of uncertainty. Riots, racism, and radical political divides shake its once sure and noble foundation. Jobs are lost, businesses fold, and discontent rises. Shockingly, the once ‘greatest country’ in the world needs to ‘Make Itself Great, Again.’ COVID woes mean much of the West finds itself in the same rocky boat, and Australia hasn’t been exempt.
As if to silence the hardship-denying ‘rosy-optimists’ once and for all, our Conductor’s COVID-Crescendo is an unmistakable sign: the shrill tone of our time is crying out, and we must pay attention.
A literary warning
Author Stephen Donaldson’s highly acclaimed fictional series The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant seem to echo a similarly haunting and resonate warning for our times. The series’ last books Against All Things Ending and The Last Dark provide a grim picture of the absolute debacle humanity could end up if we don’t recognise the ‘signs’ of our divine Conductor’s time.
In Against All Things Ending, the main character Thomas Covenant and his friends do all they can to stop the monstrous ‘Worm of the World’s End’ from destroying the world and everything they love. In the concluding book The Last Dark, they must stand against their malicious unseen enemy and give every fibre of their beings to stop a seemingly inevitable and hopeless end.
In both books, Donaldson seems as intent on acknowledging the obvious sorrow in the world and threats to its future as he does about providing an optimistic hope for a better tomorrow. The keys of courage, perseverance, personal morality, and a sovereignty beyond their own powers were the deciding factors for the ‘against-all-odds’ victorious fate of his characters and their world.
Today, our world is in desperate need of the same.
A flood of immorality, shaky government rule, and misfortune seem to plague us. Courage to stand for what is right, act on what is good, and love what is noble is a rarity rather than the norm. A divine Sovereign power to subdue the Earthly ‘powers-that-be’ (Russia, China etc.) seems just as desperately vital.
Hoping beyond hope
Like Donaldson’s characters, we also need to be ‘Against All Things Endings.’ The alternative seems to forebode that our current darkness will most certainly be the ‘The Last Dark’ our world will ever know. Without clear eyes, full hearts, and moral consciences which result in honourable lives which seek the good of others, it’s likely that we’ll hasten the day when the sovereign Conductor of this world—God—will bring the cacophonic-symphony of this planet’s history to a final climatic end.
But while the curtains of our time let the music of our Age play on, there’s hope. Donaldson’s words provide the only sure foundation for this hope of a better tomorrow:
“There is no doom so black or deep that courage and clear sight may not find another truth beyond it.”*
The truth ‘beyond’ our time, if we have the courage to see it, is that although the current season is a dark one, while there’s still ‘good’ and ‘God’ in this world we have reason to hope and, despite the odds, courageously pursue and pray for the music of a better Day.
Tim is a high school teacher in Queensland and just finished a season being a youth pastor in America. He has a passion for the gospel and for seeing lives changed by the power, person and love of Jesus Christ.
Tim Price’s previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/tim-price.html