I think about Jesus Christ’s words in John 16:33 a lot:
“…In this world you will have trouble…”
D.L. Moody built upon this obvious truth when he characterized his life’s mission in a verbal self-portrait:
“I don’t find any place where God says that the world is to grow better and better…I look upon this world as a wrecked vessel, God has given me a lifeboat and said to me, `Moody, save all you can.’ ”
Of course Moody was right. The world is a sinking ship—just read the Bible. Or read the news. As Mark Driscoll would say, “There, now you know. You won’t be disappointed.”
Armed with this maritime perspective, it is very easy for us to rationalize the disappointments of our circumstances and culture. “The world is going to hell in a handbasket!” Right?
Not so fast.
We need to get over Moody’s bow wake. Both and. The wisdom in Moody’s statement is at the end. It’s what Moody was called to do. He didn’t sit in judgment of the sinking ship, and—as Dick Woodward said when I first heard this quote in a Mini Bible College lesson years ago—Moody did’t try to fix the ship or keep it from sinking. He spent his life working passionately to lead people to Jesus Christ.
Moody was a remarkable man, born poor, in harsh circumstances. He couldn’t afford a higher education, so he studied on his own. And his study made all the difference. He made the most of his time and gifts.
If anger is rooted in unmet expectations, there are a lot of people who are angry at God because things don’t appear to be getting any better. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that our world is indeed a sinking ship. But if that’s all Christians have got as a comeback, we’re really missing the boat. Time for a little more study. God loves us and has a perfect plan—it’s our understanding of that plan that often needs some work. The Apostle Paul had his own bow wake in Romans 12:2:
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Scripture is full of verses admonishing us not to put our hope in the things of this world. It also tells us that our hope is in the next world.
Or as Jesus offered at the end of John 16:33,
“…In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
The best thoughts are orbital—they keep circling and circling and we’re never quite done with them.