By Vernon A. Williams, Gary Crusader
“These are times that try men’s souls…tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.” – Thomas Paine.
Though written in 1776, that transcendent quote fits like a glove when it comes to America and the world today.
People are catching hell. From their personal lives to their global perspectives, from trying to scrounge their next meal to trying to feed hungry children around the world – these are trying times.
We have men behaving badly from the street corner to the White House and like the “onion” that this miserable reality is, the more layers we peel away, the worse the stench becomes. Trying times.
True to prophesy, around the world are wars and rumors of wars. Consistent with the word, it appears that priorities of the greedy over the needy assures that the poor are among us always. Trying times.
What disease and disaster won’t destroy, ruthless and reckless predators threaten to kill off with handguns and high-powered automatic weaponry.
Too many folks attack the spirit of men and women they encounter through bullying, harassment and prejudice – divorcing reason from the equation, viewing the world through the myopic lens of hatred and contempt.
Before you dismiss the intent of my rant, let me be clear. I acknowledge the challenges but absolutely embrace the latter words of the Thomas Paine quote referring to “glorious triumph.”
During a recent Bible study, my pastor – PCAF Presiding Bishop Lambert W. Gates Sr. – reminded us that God created everything, including Pharaoh; that in the midst of the struggles of God’s people, he hardened the ruthless ruler’s heart.
Speaking to Moses in the book Exodus 7:3-4, God says, “…I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my miraculous signs and wonders in Egypt he will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and with mighty acts of judgment I will bring out my people….”
Resist the temptation to rush to the “that was then and this is now” argument. Remember that He is the same God today that He was yesterday and tomorrow He changes not. His ways and will are perfect.
Bishop Gates brought scripture to date explaining that in his omnificence, God created tyrannical leadership of this nation and the world – not for the sake of suffering but so his people would know the power of God and glorify His name.
While media inundates us with horrific behaviors of people, with unending tales of gloom and doom, do not allow what seems to be devastation for the moment to consume or overwhelm you.
Instead, reflect on myriad blessings in your life, large and small, that you enjoy. Even now, praise God for the inevitability of His answering prayers not yet fulfilled. Take time to thank those people whose presence near or far enhances your being. Channel particular gratitude to those most responsive when the need was greatest.
And beyond the thankfulness, add the giving component. However generous you have been in the past with your time, talent or treasure, step it up moving forward. Ignore your struggle to help those in worse shape. That is the only way that we will get out of this hole, with the help of God. Faith without works is dead.
Finally, since celebrities are often maligned or targeted for awful things they do or say, one of the major cries against stardom is that it perpetuates selfish living and misses the opportunity for the blessed of us to help the rest of us. I think it is only appropriate to identify those who are making a difference in the community, nation and world.
We should be thankful for the giving on a scale on the part of Oprah Winfrey, Serena Williams, Beyonce, John Legend, Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus, Lebron James, Demi Lovato, Lady Gaga, Shawn Mendes, Magic Johnson, Russell Simmons, Denzel Washington, Chris Paul, Ludacris, Janet Jackson, Will.i.am, Alicia Keys, Tom Joyner, Steve Harvey along with power couple Will and Jada Smith.
Kudos to them all.
My prayer is that on Thanksgiving and every day we should be grateful to God for precious gifts of health, family, friends, challenges that build us, strength to overcome obstacles, wisdom in decision making, discernment to know who or what we should or should not embrace, courage of our convictions, compassion to lift as we rise, armor to fight our battles, forgiveness when we fall short, the capacity to forgive and covering of the blood. Amen.
CIRCLE CITY CONNECTION by Vernon A. Williams is a series of essays on myriad topics that include social issues, human interest, entertainment and profiles of difference-makers who are forging change in a constantly evolving society. Williams is a 40-year veteran journalist based in Indianapolis, IN – commonly referred to as The Circle City. Send comments or questions to: [email protected].