“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…”
This is the first line in Charles Dickens’ famous novel, “A TALE OF TWO CITIES.” The story dates back to the 18th century before and during the French revolution. In his tale, Dickens draws unsettling parallels between the Cities of London and Paris describing abject poverty, appalling starvation, rampant crime, ruthless capital punishment and aristocratic greed.
It was a time of contradiction—a time of uncertainty. Changing times promised the end of tyranny. So, on one hand, there was joy and hope and on the other despair and suffering.
We are going through the same paradox, for the world we now live in hasn’t changed all that much. There are still places where tyranny reigns and poverty and suffering run rampant. In every city, there are those who live in luxury while others rummage in garbage cans for the next meal.
Someone has said that we are living in the best of times with technology making our life easier and also in the worst of times when we are enslaved by the same technology.
I have to smile a little bit because my idea of the best of times and worst of times has nothing to do with smartphones and laptops.
In a waiting room the other day, I struck up a conversation with a young man who is saving up for the latest I Phone, because it does all these amazing things. He needs $1,100.00. Yesterday, my doctor was over an hour late for our appointment, because of a glitch in the computer system. We agreed that computers are sometimes more trouble than they are worth.
When I told the sweet little bank teller that I needed cash, but I didn’t have my checkbook with me, she said, “O, I don’t own a checkbook. I have never written a check.” Then she said, “You know, young people really don’t know how to handle money. We just do it all on the computer.
This may be interesting, amusing or annoying, but none of it has to do with “The best of times or the worst of times.”
There is a major conflict raging in this world between good and evil, light and darkness, wisdom and folly. This is true of society in general, but more importantly, it is true in the life of every individual.
I guess I’m thinking about this today because this has been a very difficult summer for me. You might call it one of “the worst of times.” To my great disappointment, the surgery I underwent did not relieve the pain I was suffering. So, now I am seeing a pain doctor, who will shoot drugs into my spine to eradicate the pain.
In preparation for my first visit, it was necessary to fill out seventeen pages of information for the doctor. There was one question that gave me great pause.
“How often, in the last week, have you felt depressed and hopeless?”
Thinking about it, I realized that not once, even when in private I wept at the pain, did I feel hopeless or depressed. Now, don’t misunderstand me. I am not immune to the conflict between good and evil. There are times when I struggle, as does everyone, but I have a secret.
Through the years, I have come to understand that it is possible for an individual to suffer, what would be considered the “worst of times,” and simultaneously enjoy “the best of times.” For, if Christ is the center of your life—if He is ever present within you, you can face the very worst of times without losing hope.
I John 4:4, “Greater is He that is in you than He that is in the world.”
Romans 8:35-37 encourages us. “Who shall separate us from the Love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? …No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”
Here the Apostle enumerates some of the “worst of times,” and reassures us that we cannot only survive the worst, but we can enjoy the best, for—
“…In His presence is fullness of joy; at His right hand there are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11.
THAT’S THE BEST OF TIMES
REMEMBER, THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!