The Best and Worst of Times

In 1859, Charles Dickens wrote the novel ‘A Tale of Two Cities’, and began with these contrasting words:

‘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 incredibility, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.’

He was referring to 1775 – the time of the French Revolution.

Sometimes, it looks like the kingdom of darkness is prevailing. And, if we’re honest, it does seem like every time we turn on the news, things are getting from bad to worse.

That’s true of a fallen and broken world where we see both beauty and pain coinciding beside each other. At the same time, we see hope and brokenness together.

Acts 12 paints a beautiful picture of how these come together. From the Gospels to Acts, we see the various ‘Herods’ in power and having their way – Herod the Great, Herod Antipas, and Herod Agrippa all seemed to have struck a blow to the Kingdom of light. It’s as though ‘Herod’s kingdom’ was winning.

Even though the Church was growing exponentially, it saw intense opposition – James was killed and Peter thrown into prison. But, instead of organising a prison relief committee, the believers prayed. They knew that the source of power was prayer.

We’re told that ‘prayer was made without ceasing.’ It didn’t mean non-stop prayer but the intensity. It’s the word ektenōs – a medical term which depicts stretching a muscle to its limit. It means total effort.

The Lord intervened and sent an angel to rescue Peter. Later, an angel struck Herod down supernaturally with worms. But what really caught my eye was verse 24 – ‘The Word of God prevailed and multiplied.’

A battle rages between the two kingdoms but, when the Church prays, something happens. It’s not positive thinking but active spiritual warfare. The Church is created to flourish in the midst of opposition and pain.

Although it seems that the kingdom of this world is gaining ground, the Word and works of God will always prevail when we know what God has called us to do.

At the start of this year, our cell groups began studying the book of Haggai. Chapter 1 reveals opposition to which the covenantal people of God felt despair and were tempted to focus on their own personal affairs and forsake the rebuilding of the temple.

But Haggai told them to ‘consider their ways’ and remember what the Lord told them to do.

A review of history at this juncture gives a timely reminder that, in the worst of times, the Church excels the most – turmoil creates a season of open doors with powerful breakthroughs.

Isaiah prophesied in Isaiah 60:2, ‘Behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people, the people of the earth … But the Lord will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you. The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising’

Over the past few months, we’ve received multiple testimonies of healings, salvations, and family reconciliations. Even in the midst of brokenness, God works when His people pray.

Amidst all the shakings around the world, we must not be distracted from our call. No matter what season you’re in, remember your assignment and be focused. The Word and works of God will prevail and multiply as we do what we’re called to.

Assistant Pastor Elijah Chan

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