Happiness in an Unstable World
“THINGS have changed since I was young,” laments the sage who regrets the passing of the “good old days”. Many experts would agree and some of them point out that the world’s last year of normalcy was in 1913. Since then, multiplied wars and upheavals have driven would-be world builders from one frantic scheme to another in search of a workable “new order of things”. Their continued failures bring to mind the wisdom of Solomon, who, even in his ancient and peaceful times, was able to discern this folly.
“Men may say of something, ‘Ah, this is new!’—but it existed long ago before our time. I have seen all that goes on in this world; it is a vain, futile business. You cannot straighten what is twisted, nor can you count up the defects in life. I went in for great works, I built mansions, planted vineyards, laid out gardens and parks . . . Richer and richer I grew, . . . But when I turned to look at all I had achieved and at my toil and trouble, then it was all vain and futile. Nothing in this world is worth while. For what can he do who succeeds the king? Nothing but what the king has done already.”—Eccl. 1:10, 14, 15; 2:4, 5, 9, 11, 12, Mo.
Since A.D. 1914 Solomon’s logic relative to world conversion takes on more meaning than ever. For now we witness fulfillment of the global wars, catastrophes, upheavals and fears Jesus said to look out for as a sure sign of his appearance in Kingdom power. (Matt. 24; Mark 13; Luke 21) It would be paralleled by war in heaven and Satan’s ouster there, the Devil and associate demons being hurtled earthward to roar about in anger and await his now early finish at Armageddon. (Rev. 12:7-12) How futile indeed to now seek lasting happiness through this old system of things and its devil-inspired woes!
It does no good for pseudo optimists to prophesy fairer tomorrows for these governments. Even while they boast, wars and civil strife rip the Orient. Russia’s bear, in constant fear of insurrection, growls and throws out disloyal satellite leaders. And the West fares no better. France shuffles her cabinets like playing cards and picks premiers from a political grab bag. England’s labor government labored in vain to even keep alive. And the United States, most influential power on earth, has been convicted of corruption in the highest offices and was labeled “intellectually dishonest” by her former president.
But surely in the West’s prized “Christian religion” a moral force for world stability will be found. So her well-paid clergy and hangers-on would like to believe. But where is such force?
Have such faiths stood in rocky firmness for true Christianity? If so, why the trend by Protestant and Catholic alike to embrace God-defying evolution while still professing to believe the Bible? And why do the pincers of communism stab through Catholic central and western Europe, imperiling even the Vatican itself and promoting speculation of a possible papal abdication and retreat by the college of cardinals to a refuge in the Western Hemisphere? Why, in the face of all this, does Christendom keep praying and praying and praying without result? James answers:
“You desire, and yet you do not have. You go on murdering and coveting, and yet you are not able to obtain. You go on fighting and waging war. You do not have because of your not asking. You do ask, and yet you do not receive, because you are asking for a wrong purpose, that you may expend it upon your cravings for sensual pleasure.”—Jas. 4:2, 3, NW.
Yes, God knows rebellious Christendom, knows how she would only use his favor toward her for selfish, sensual pleasure. So he withholds it and warns that her hypocrisy will plunge her to destruction at Armageddon at the hands of the very political princes she has tricked. But her heavy and dulled eyes and ears cannot note this. Christendom is dazed and reeling.—Rev. 17; Isa. 29:9-11, Mo.
Then who in the world is happy in these times? In his sermon on the mount Jesus described the class of persons that would be joyful. Unlike pompous, boastful Christendom, he said these people would be “hungering and thirsting for righteousness” and “conscious of their spiritual need”. He said they would be the ones mourning over conditions of the old system so that they could be made glad by news of the new, of Christ’s kingdom. They would be the mild-tempered ones, willing to learn. They would be merciful to others and pure in heart concerning their intentions, willing to use God’s Word rightly. He links these happy ones up with the world-wide preachers of his kingdom mentioned in Matthew 24:14 by the description common to both classes, they would be hated for his name and for righteousness’ sake. Here he tells them to leap for joy on that account and, “Let your light shine before mankind, that they may see your right works and give glory to your Father who is in the heavens.”—Matt. 5:3-16, NW.
What proof do we have that such happiness is alive in the world in 1952? Shaky, unsteady Europe received a unique testimony of it last summer. Amid the very instability of those many governments and confused peoples just related, a chain of international conventions was held across that continent’s western portion. Rather than political or sectarian, these assemblies met to equip Jehovah’s Christian ministers, his modern-day witnesses, for their work of preaching the good news of God’s kingdom by Christ.
These assemblies radiated confidence. The bearers of the Kingdom announcement have the confidence of God’s Word that the universal war of Armageddon will throw open the portals on a glorious new world for mankind. This is a confidence possible only by those now representing the kingdom of the heavens. Their king, Christ Jesus, has already won the initial victory over Satan the Devil, the founder of the “iron curtain” idea. Through censorship, prejudice, wrong religious teachings and persisting world instability, that great dictator tries to keep all mankind preoccupied behind an iron curtain and away from the liberating Kingdom message.
Be glad to know that the Devil will fail! Even now the Kingdom announcement penetrates through all nations and all kinds of government. Its joyful bearers are determined to keep on, increasing their witness to the kingdom of God and its stability and blessings. Their happiness and right works remain like great lights in a dark world. What a joy to say to more and more listeners, “Be glad, you nations, with his people.”—Rom. 15:10, NW.