Sunday, March 3, 2024

Seeing despair in the future


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DESTINED TO LIVE a life of regret or futility in the days of the Great Tribulation.
At this time that is where I honestly see myself within the next five, ten, 20 or 30 years if I live long enough or if the world lasts that long. And I’m thinking this way as 2012 draws to an end because of all the heightened end-time-related issues that have occupied every aspect of what we call media – TV, radio, Internet, printed news, visual art, music and  literature – since the new century began.
Like many others, I personally read most of the  Left Behind Series. I’ve also been bombarded with gimmicks foretelling the end of the world as we know  it and, alas, my most recent experience has been the Mayan calendar featuring last Saturday, December 21, 2012, as the end of time.
I’m still here, as are billions of others who live,  move and have their being on Planet Earth, while birds, fish and reptiles continue to co-exist and plant life goes through its natural processes in the land and sea . . . .  You get the picture!
But the reason I believe that I will probably be here living in despair some time after the Rapture is because, while I believe in God and a supreme being, and while I pray to Him daily and attend church occasionally, I lack that defining faith that makes everything outside the realm of Heaven and  salvation pale into insignificance.
I genuinely admire those who have this abiding  faith and hope that a better day is coming and that human beings, no longer mortal, will one day exist in  a paradise beyond our imagination, beyond the travails, cares and miniscule pleasures of this mortal life.
Call me simple or worse, but I simply cannot get  my head around the prospect of a better day coming while living the daily, every-minute, every-second reality that bad things happen to good people, that those who do wrong will not necessarily pay for it,  or that living the prescribed upright life will lead  to prosperity, success or happiness.
And confounding the issue even further for me are the utterances of many modern-day preachers who, while admitting that salvation is the most obvious and important reason for the ultimate sacrifice of the One whose birth we celebrate tomorrow, put tremendous stock in the physical and material quality of this present earthly life.
How could the two go hand in hand when the  Bible itself presents some sickly and poor Christians whose daily No. 1 priority was to spread the good news of salvation in the latter days, and to take no thought about what they would eat or drink or how they would be clothed?
Today we know that the work of those Christians bore fruit because we have the Gospel; but we know  so little of the personal loss of those men and women, the broken relationships, the humiliation, the physical and emotional pain.
Therefore, my belief is that unless you have found  a prize or a lifelong mission that is so great and  all-consuming that everything else – health, wealth, family, friends – pales significantly in comparison,  then your life cannot be truly fulfilling and you cannot be “ready” for death, Rapture or the end of the world.
And since I have not found that mission or prize – whether as a result of unbelief or misunderstanding,  or because I look for too much logic in things, I don’t know – the end of the world, particularly this Rapture, are my worst fears.
Can you imagine one day looking everywhere  in vain for relatives and loved ones, while hearing  of similar happenings? A substantial number of people gone in one fell swoop not by natural disaster or war but, simply, vanished?
Whether that scenario is biblical, reasonable or not, I leave to the scholars and prophets; but what I do know is that amid the progress and repeated attempts throughout millennia to make life better, there is still much that is fundamentally wrong in the world; and no amount of faith seems likely to change it until the Creator decides to perform that defining miracle of erasing the present order of things and starting afresh with a remnant He chooses to save – if He so chooses because He is sovereign and therefore does what, when and with whom He wishes. Oh, glorious thought!
But in the meantime, I live with the sad, vexing and infinitely confusing reality that nothing is getting better for many who try to live uprightly while those who, according to the oldtimers, have no respect for God or man, are often flooded with the good things  of life and fortified in their ability to inflict wrong  upon others.
I do not understand, and for this reason my faith wanes, even as the Rapture, Tribulation and end certainly draw nigh. Merry Christmas!
• Ricky Jordan is an Associate  Editor of THE NATION.  Email

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