“Self-pity Is Not a Christian Virtue”

René Malgo

Dear friends, many people ask the anxious question: What will happen tomorrow? The world is becoming more and more restless, at least from our Western perspective. The West has enjoyed an unprecedented period of peace and prosperity since the end of World War II. But more and more people fear that these times will soon be over. They reference Austrian-Jewish writer Stefan Zweig (died 1942), who wrote about the time before the First World War, among other things, in his autobiographical book The World of Yesterday.

Europe was proud of its progress, peace, prosperity, and liberalism. The West felt secure, believing that the brutality of the past was behind it, and that it was headed towards a golden era. And then the bloody catastrophe of the First World War broke in. While many today do not have this feeling of security, they do have the premonition that such sinister shadows will soon spread over our countries once again.

And indeed, when we read Zweig’s memories of the early 20th century, it might seem to us that he is describing the naïve, starry-eyed idealism of the far-left politics and mass media of our day:

“There was as little belief in the possibility of such barbaric declines as wars between the peoples of Europe as there was in witches and ghosts. Our fathers were comfortably saturated with confidence in the unfailing and binding power of tolerance and conciliation. They honestly believed that the divergencies and the boundaries between nations and sects would gradually melt away into a common humanity, and that peace and security, the highest of treasures, would be shared by all mankind.”

We are aware that barbaric declines are possible at any time—especially the more godless the world around us becomes. But, how should we deal with this knowledge? Is it appropriate for us to just complain about how bad the world is now and what unfortunate people we are, as we sit at home on the couch, in heated rooms, comfortable clothes, and with a steaming cup of coffee in hand?

No. Self-pity is not a Christian virtue. Nor is panic. The pressure on believers is increasing, there’s no question. But that’s why we must not despair. Jesus Christ is the Victor and His gospel remains God’s power.

We are in God’s hand, even when things happen that we can’t make sense of at all. And truthfully, much of what we fear is nothing compared to what our persecuted and deprived brothers have to endure in most of the non-Western world. The comfort that we Western Christians enjoy, and which we now see as threatened by the influx of refugees and by a society increasingly hostile to Christ, is simply not something we have been promised, but rather, “…all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12).

We do not like to hear this. And yes, I also pray that God will grant us Christians the grace to “lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (1 Timothy 2:2). That is a legitimate concern. But with all the fears we might have, we should keep in mind what God the Lord said to His people Israel under the Old Covenant, and also calls to us through Christ: “Why sayest thou…My way is hid from the LORD, and my judgment is passed over from my God? Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:27-31).

Let us go to our God in all our weaknesses and cling to Him. That’s the right attitude. Maranatha—our Lord, come!

Midnight Call - 02/2018

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