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  • Writer's pictureRichard Parrish

The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

“Peace, I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” - John 14:27 (ESV)

Dickens’ memorable opening paragraph from A Tale of Two Cities is as relevant today as it was during the French Revolution:

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, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

Like the cultural struggles during the French Revolution, we also wrestle daily with conflicting ideologies; light and darkness, wisdom and foolishness, faith and unbelief, hope and despair. We have everything before us, yet we recognize our emptiness: “The best of times, the worst of times.”

Betty, my mother-in-law, lives with us. She’s 101 years old. The loss of her vision and hearing impairment (although she insists that she can hear OK) robs her of her independence.

“I don’t want to be a burden to you,” is something she says — daily. She means it. This firm, independent woman is at a life stage requiring assistance. She knows she needs help but struggles to accept the loss of her independence. It’s a tough place for her.

Confined to listen to the television (she can’t see the screen), with the volume loud enough for the neighbors to hear (the people on tv speak too softly), her choice of information is to listen to ministers and the news.

“Did you hear that China is going to take over the United States,” she asked. “Where did you hear that?” I asked. “It was on the news,” she replied.

As I listened to her express her concerns, she also told me of ministers who say we should stock up with food, water, and emergency supplies.

I can understand her anxiety. If all I had were news reports of violence, chaos, wars, crime, homelessness, decadence, and evil, I’d also be fearful.

A history review reveals that every generation is “the best of times and worst of times,” and it also demonstrates how all people of all times need Christ’s peace.

Jesus’ words prompt us to remember and receive the peace He gives us, a “peace” unlike the world offers. Christ’s peace offers buoyancy to spirits sinking with despair. His peace produces resolution when we’re faint of heart, reveals light when all around us is dark, and inspires faith and hope when we despair. As a result of Christ’s peace, my heart is not troubled or fearful.

What alarms you today? The “worst of times” is transformed into the “best of times” because Jesus offers us His Peace!

Christ’s Peace be with you!

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