(Image courtesy of http://www.estatevaults.com.)
The times are wicked and full of great evil.  My heart has been burdened like it has not been burdened before in my twenty-eight years on this earth.  This burden has created in me anger, sorrow, and depression.  Fear has clouded my hope; the darkness of evil has shrouded my confidence.

Then, yesterday, I received a letter from The Voice of the Martyrs.  In the letter, the organization declared that persecutions in the United States have risen to unprecedented heights.  It is true; never before in the land founded for religious, political, and economic freedoms has such a hatred of the things of God been so prevalent.  Yet, as the letter continued, encouragement was given from the ministry's founder, Richard Wurmbrand, who spent ten years in a communist prison camp in Romania for being a Christian pastor.  He was tortured and abused, yet in the darkness and fear, he clung to the One who is hope and confidence.  His story revitalized my hope and confidence in our great and glorious God's salvation: Jesus Christ.

Regardless of which presidential candidate is elected in November, the United States will never regain her religious liberties.  Just yesterday, I read a story in WORLD magazine about the indoctrination of pro-transgender policies by the U.S. Navy.  Navy personnel are being told what to believe and what to say in light of transgender leaders purposely being put in positions of leadership starting July 2017 (see story here).

The United States will never again be a force for good in the world.  With the blood of her unborn children on her hands, offering them up as sacrifices to gods of pleasure and convenience, the unrepentant citizens of the U.S. have provoked the wrath of the Voice of the voiceless, the Father of the fatherless, and the Defender of the poor and needy.

The United States has fallen, and the judgment of God is upon her.  It is only a matter of time before we see even more plainly the physical signs of her spiritual whoring.

But it is not so for the believer.  For the believer, we rejoice in knowing that God "has promised good to us; His Word our hope secures" ("Amazing Grace," John Newton).

The Bible tells us what is really happening in the heavenly places around us today.  Take some time to study each passage below:
"Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, 'Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night.  And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.  For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them.  Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time.'  And when the dragon saw that he was thrown down to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child.  But the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, so that she could fly into the wilderness to her place, where she was nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent.  And the serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, so that he might cause her to be swept away with the flood.  But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and rank up the river which the dragon poured out of his mouth.  So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus" Revelation 12:10-17).
"Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testings, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.  If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.  Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name....  Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.  Be of sober spirit, be on the alert.  Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.  After you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.  To Him be dominion forever and ever.  Amen" (I Peter 4:12-16, 5:6-11).
"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.  Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.  Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm" (Ephesians 6:10-13).
I will purposely skip the historical context of these writings and go straight to the application for today's Christian.  When we become regenerate (that is, take on the mind and likeness of Christ at justification), we immediately have a different enemy.  Where once we were enemies with God, we are now enemies with the devil.  Where once we were under God's judgment, we still had the hope of His grace.  The devil, though, has no grace and he has no mercy.  He is ruthless and accusing in his attacks.  But we are not afraid of him, for he has been defeated even before the creation of the world because Jesus was crucified and rose again before the foundations of the world (Ephesians 1:4).  To us is the victory - over sin and the devil - through our Lord Jesus Christ!

So how is the Christian to respond to our present difficulties?  By standing firm in the Lord.  It is interesting to note the wording of Ephesians 6:12: "Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand against the schemes of the devil."  We rest in the shadow of the Most High, who fights for us as we stand in His strength.  We need not yield swords or fight on our own strength - for we would never prevail.  But the Lord is our shield, our fortress, our strong tower, our defense, our refuge (Psalm 18, 27, 46, 91, 119).  We stand firm in Him by replenishing our hope, confidence, and trust in Him by studying His Word, entering His presence in humility through prayer, worshiping Him in spirit and in truth, memorizing the Bible, consciously remembering His victorious sacrifice and resurrection through the sacred memorial of the Lord's Supper, and other spiritual disciplines.

What is happening in the United States is scary to me, honestly.  I am convicted that my hope is in my country's national security made possible by politicians, but my hope cannot be in nations or in people or in military strength (Psalm 20:7).  My hope must be in the Lord, who dictates the boundaries of nations and the times of events (Acts 17:26).  It is in Him that I must consciously place my hope, trust, and confidence.

Oh Lord, I offer up a humble prayer with a heavy heart for our nation.  The unrighteous continue to run in the race of sin and judgment.  Oh Father in Heaven, please spare them through the rescuing, redefining, regenerating power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!  Please give your people renewed focus and passion to proclaim the message of the cross to all people.  Your judgment is coming swiftly and justly; let us be found in peaceful union with You, through the great grace that is ours by the power of the death and resurrection of our holy Lord.  God, have mercy on this nation and extend to her one last chance for repentance, I pray.  Even so, my hope is in You and I will build my house upon the unmovable rock that is called Jehovah.  Come quickly, Lord Jesus.  Amen.