When I was younger, each new year was ushered in with optimistic hope for its potentialities. Much of such talk was part of the general humanistic confidence that we were on the brink of a better world.
There was the cult of science. The moon race was seen to represent our potential to accomplish the seemingly impossible through technology. Medicine was then seeing great leaps forward which increased life expectancy. People still had a great confidence in government and the political process. “Progress” was the word commonly used.
Technological and medical advances have continued, but there is very little optimism about the future expressed these days. Few have any real confidence in the political process; it is now transparently seen as merely the province of those who have a lust to exercise power over others.
The confidence in the humanistic hope that man is solving his problem has disappeared. The opposite seems to be self-evident truth – man’s self-imposed problems are causing systematic cultural problems. Humanists are no longer giddy about the brave new world they are creating. They are angry, shrill, and vindictive towards any who point out their mess.
It is wise to read Hebrews 12:18-29 on a recurring basis. It describes the inter-advental era we are in by comparing it to the shaking of the mountain when Moses received the Ten Commandments. The people were afraid because it was so obviously a manifestation of God’s power, against which no man could stand.
The point was that the same power is at work in history now, and God is shaking all things so “that those things which cannot be shaken may remain” (v. 8). God eliminates evil men, institutions, and even empires. He shakes them out, yet His Kingdom remains and grows. God shook out the Soviet Union, and Russia, its heir, is even now being shaken out. China is juggling many crises right now and faces nothing but problems in the coming years.
Exactly what comes out of all this in the short or long term we cannot say with precision, but we do know that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose” (Rom 8:26). Note that this is only hopeful to the people of God. It is only the humanist whose world is collapsing around him.