Former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow is writing a book on how to handle success and disappointment. Titled Shaken: Discovering Your True Identity in the Midst of Life’s Storms, the book will be published this October.
We can use his advice.
Researchers are warning today that antibiotic-resistant bacteria known as “superbugs” could kill ten million people by 2050. Scientists say this issue is “as big a risk as terrorism” and could cost world economies nearly $100 trillion. According to one expert, “If we don’t solve the problem we are heading to the dark ages.”
If you’re like me, however, you’re less than alarmed by this news. The reason: 2050 is a long time off. Over the next thirty-four years, surely scientists will find solutions to this problem, we assume. We have more pressing problems, it seems.
For instance, authorities are still searching for the cause of the EgyptAir Flight 840 tragedy, but many remain convinced that a terrorist bomb destroyed the airplane. Meanwhile, ISIS is calling on followers to attack the West during the month of Ramadan, which begins in two weeks. According to CNN, the group has conducted or inspired at least ninety terrorist attacks in twenty-one countries other than Iraq and Syria.
The Wall Street Journal warns that mosquitoes with the Zika virus could begin infecting Americans within the U.S. in the next month. And according to today’s New York Times, 358 shootings in the U.S. last year left four or more people dead or wounded.
It’s easy to focus on present conditions to the exclusion of future consequences. For instance, when the prophet Isaiah warned King Hezekiah that the Babylonian Empire would destroy his kingdom and enslave his sons, “Hezekiah said to Isaiah, ‘The word of the Lord that you have spoken is good.’ For he thought, ‘Why not, if there will be peace and security in my days?'” (2 Kings 20:19).
By contrast, when the prophet Jonah warned the wicked people of Nineveh that they had only forty days to repent or face divine judgment, “the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them” (Jonah 3:5). The immediate threat prompted an immediate response.
Clearly we need to deal with present problems such as terrorism and the Zika virus. But future challenges have present consequences as well. Sin is spiritual cancer: it metastasizes tomorrow (James 1:15) but devastates today. Sinful thoughts are just as sinful as the actions they produce (Matthew 5:22, 28). They break our relationship with our holy God and block his Spirit’s empowering work in our lives.
By contrast, holiness today positions us to receive God’s best for the present and the future. Our Father wants so much more for us than this broken world can offer. President Reagan was right: “God gave angels wings. He gave mankind dreams. And with his help, there’s no limit to what can be accomplished.”
So let’s choose God’s help by choosing holiness. Charles Spurgeon testified, “I have now concentrated all my prayers into one, and that one prayer is this, that I may die to self, and live wholly to Him.”