An obscure verse in the Hebrew Scriptures describes the sons of Issachar as “men who understood the times.” Could we, if we step back and look at the big picture?
Ideologies exist today that would remove Christians and our gospel, if not from the face of the earth at least from visibility. Over there, it’s by violence. Here, because they dared to live by faith, a baker, florist, teacher, judge, and business executive lost their jobs and more. Neither the world nor western culture can agree on what is good for human flourishing. We can’t even agree on the value of human life.
God isn’t done yet. Jesus said, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working” (John 5:17). Look at history since then. After Stephen’s stoning, the early Christians found a reception for the gospel among the Greeks of the region, and in Europe. In the 7th C., the Saracens drove out Christians in the Mediterranean Basin. At the same time, Scotland and Ireland began to embrace the truth about Christ.
In the 17th C., while the Church of England punished non-conformists, the Pilgrims left on the Mayflower seeking religious freedom in America. In the 18th C., as French revolutionaries overran Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, William Carey took the gospel to India. In the 19th C., the church grew in Korea and China.
Now, despite the headwinds of communism, Korean missionaries number almost 30,000 worldwide, and China could soon be home of the largest Christian population in the world. The Chinese church has accepted the call to send missionaries to the Middle East. Despite hostility, the church among Iranians and Kurds has experienced startling growth. Many claim Christ spoke to them in dreams.
“The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8). F. W. Boreham opined that the movement of God is more like a bird than a candle that can be snuffed out. “If you startle a bird, the gentle creatures flies away and sings its lovely song upon some other bough.” Ravi Zacharias adds, “The bird is singing its song. But the melody must first be sung in each of our hearts.”
“God, who said, ‘Light shall shine out of darkness,’ is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6). Take heart, Christian! Ours is the God of creation and providence. The story of this world is His Story. The gospel of Christ Jesus is your story. The One who has shone light in you can yet brighten the darkest places on earth.