In the heat of the Civil War, Moses Lard penned this “Note to the Brotherhood” to encourage Christians: “More now than ever before in this country do even Christians need to be placed completely under the influence of Christianity. In mind and heart they are deeply and painfully agitated. Christianity alone can tranquillize and soothe them. In thought they are distracted and unsettled, and in affection alienated one from another. Truth alone can unitize, settle, and reassure them. Their zeal has cooled, their energy lost its ancient tone. Fresh, living pictures of the love of Christ, more than anything else, can rekindle the former, and vitalize the latter. Exciting (agitating) political news so engrosses their attention that their views of the Gospel are in uncommon danger of becoming dim and unreliable. Nothing can so effectually prevent this as sharp, spirited discussions of the great elementary themes of Christianity. Indeed, never before did so high a necessity exist in our ranks for sound elementary preaching, and sound elementary writing as now. Let such preaching, and such writing, quick with the noble warmth of preacher and writer, be sent home to the hearts of the people, and salvation, and joy, and gladness will be the result…We cannot desert it now in this hour of trial. No: we must work for it with pen, work for it with tongue, work for it with prayer, work for it in hope, work for it the livelong day, and dream of it in watches of the night — work for it and never faint” (Lard’s Quarterly, September 1863).
These same restless feelings threaten to distract us today and dampen our spirits. If we will learn from history as well as the Scriptures, we will see that the key to our faith’s survival is persistence. We must hold to the things we have learned. We must let the Bible put things into perspective. We must not lose focus. This is not easy, especially when we hear so much that can be discouraging. In times of great distress we tend to be preoccupied with threats to our physical life and possessions. The church must keep teaching the grand foundational truths of the gospel. This is our only protection against something far worse — spiritual death.
If anyone understood stress it was David. It was at those low points that he doubled down in his commitment to God. “Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to You. I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” (Psa. 61:1-2). “Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in You my soul takes refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of Your wings until the disaster has passed.” (Psa. 57:1). God heard these prayers then. He will hear them today. The only question is whether we will trust Him (Prov. 3:5-6).
- Kerry Duke West End church of Christ, Livingston, KY