Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries
"Good News, Bad News"
Jan. 19, 2018
But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.
~ 1 Peter 3:15 (ESV)
Listening to the news a reasonable person would have to concede the world is in tough shape.
In our nation alone, men of power have been accused of abusing that power in their relationships with those who have none. The national anthem -- as well as statues honoring representatives of the Confederacy -- has divided athletic teams, historians, and communities. A steady march of hurricanes have buffeted our coasts and unseasonably cold weather has seen semi-frozen iguanas dropping from the trees of Florida. North Korea keeps threatening and most of the United Nations disapproves of where we would like our embassy. Unbelievably, when other countries look at our nation, they are envious that we have it so good.
Listening to the news, any sensible individual could easily conclude our small, blue planet is in an unstoppable, downward spiral.
In spite of all that has been said in these opening paragraphs, I am able to tell you there are people out there who believe things are better today than they have been at any other time.
One of those anti-pessimists is Swedish historian Mark Norberg.
Norberg takes a look at the human condition and divides it into nine areas: food, sanitation, life expectancy, poverty, violence, the state of the environment, literacy, freedom, equality, and the conditions of childhood. Amazingly, Norberg maintains, and has statistics to prove, that in most of those areas the world has seen considerable positive progress.
Do you need a few examples of this good news? Well, here you go:
1. Although most people believe poverty is steady or getting worse, according to the United Nations, the level of those who live in "extreme poverty" (10 percent), has never been lower.
2. Child mortality is at a record low; 50 percent fewer children under the age of five die today than they did three decades ago.
3. In 1900, average life expectancy was 31; today it is 71.
Find it hard to believe? You're not alone. According to a recent poll done by YouGov, only six percent of Americans believe the world is getting better. Nicholas Kristof, writer for the New York Times, really stuck his neck out when he said 2016 was "the best year in the history of humanity."
Me? I think Mr. Kristof is not quite right about "the best year."
If I wanted to find the best year in history, I'd go to Bethlehem about 2,000 years ago. There I'd listen to the angels tell of God's Good News of great joy which had come to us in the Person of the Savior. Maybe, a few decades later, I'd go to a borrowed, empty tomb outside Jerusalem's walls. With gladness I'd hear the angels say Jesus wasn't there because He had risen.
Those two years, along with what happened in between, have changed this world and the next; they have transformed our lives, our futures, our eternal destinies. Yes, those were the best of years, and for them we give thanks.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, for Your Son, our Savior, we give thanks. May the Good News He is, and has given, brighten our attitude and give peace to our days. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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Listening to the news a reasonable person would have to concede the world is in tough shape...