Our Waning Confidence


God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  Therefore will we not fear, though the earth do change, and though the mountains be shaken into the heart of the seas;  Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains tremble with the swelling thereof.    —Psalm 46: 1-3 (ASV)   

 In June of this year Gallup conducted a poll on the public’s confidence in several major institutions in American society.  The U.S. military topped the list with a 76 percent confidence rating.  Not surprisingly, the U.S. Congress ranked at the bottom with only 10 percent.

There were troubling results suggesting that less than half of Americans have confidence in many of the institutions that helped form the bedrock of our society.  Big business came in at 22 percent.  Newspapers and television tied at 23 percent.  The criminal justice system was rated 28 percent. Public schools were rated 32 percent.  The U.S. Supreme court was rated 34 percent. The presidency received a rating of 46 percent.  The public’s confidence in churches and organized religion was only 48 percent.

There are plenty of reasons to lack confidence in these institutions.  Violence and even homicides in our schools are now commonplace.  It seems like hardly a month can pass anymore before you hear about another beating or killing in a school.

The recent federal government shutdown left World War II veterans blocked from visiting their memorial in Washington D.C., national parks closed, most government employees furloughed and many federal contractors idled.

A failure of the Electronic Benefit Transfer (food stamp) computer system recently caused panic across multiple states.  The registration website for the new federal health care system is a train wreck.

On top of all this, the U.S. economy stinks.  The national debt is at 17 trillion dollars—that’s 12 zeros.  Congress narrowly averted a default on the debt earlier this month, but could not reach a definitive solution.  They merely postponed the debt argument for a few months.   Failed economic policies spanning multiple presidential administrations have left millions of Americans unemployed or underemployed.

The church has taken a lot of hits in recent times.  Just last week Pope Francis chastised a German Bishop for his lavish lifestyle. Embezzlement of  funds by church employees is becoming commonplace.   It is no longer unusual to hear about a church leader caught up in a sexual crime or other form of corruption.

When times are good it’s easy for you and me to simply drift through life without a care, but when things turn bad all kinds of troubles arise.  Just trying to comprehend all of the problems plaguing American society today can cause fear, anger, paranoia, despair and depression for some.

In Matthew chapter 17, Jesus is transfigured on the mountaintop. His apostles Peter, James and John behold the full glory of God.  It’s no surprise that immediately afterwards they ask Jesus if they should pitch tents so they can remain on the mountain.  His apostles want to stay and continue to soak in the glorious experience.  Instead Jesus leads them back down the mountain to the valley and their regular lives.

Life’s greatest lessons are rarely learned on a mountaintop.  They’re learned in the daily drudgery and pain of life. Fortunately for Christians, regardless of how bad things might look today, we know how the story ultimately ends.  As Oswald Chambers described his life, “I am in the procession of a conqueror, and it doesn’t matter what the difficulties are, for I am always led in triumph.”

Saint Paul echoes the same message in Romans 8:38-39 (ASV), “I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  He goes on to challenge us in Philippians 4:6 (ASV), “In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”

When you’ve reached wit’s end, stop, take a deep breath, lift your eyes and look.   You’ll see God standing right there.  Regardless of your present circumstances, never forget that He is the author of the story in every Christian’s life.  God stands ready for us to lift the burdens from our backs and place them squarely on His.  Therefore, guided by the Holy Spirit, let your thoughts and deeds spring from faith, not fear.

Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.  —Matthew 11:28-30 (ASV)

One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Paul Privett on October 30, 2013 at 12:31 am

    Zack, I have been meaning to reply to your latest “post” since Sunday. Your words and insights are truly inspirational. I suspect you have been told many a time that perhaps the “Lord” would have you more fully involved in Ministry, but I want to say that while that is without a doubt true I like the fact that you are looking for a meaningful position where these insights and spirit lead words can be a part of that work just as they are a “part” of your job search. Stay the course. I believe you are serving God in a very meaningful way right now and that is why it is taking so long to find work! Make sense? Paul


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