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Everyone the world over is yearning for an end to all the compounding problems this year has brought. Truly, “…the WHOLE CREATION groans and travails in pain together until now” (Rom. 8:22). Mankind has not only been suffering through a global crisis but also the planet—air, land and water—has come to be a mess.
The beginning of II Timothy 3 may as well describe what we see out our windows, on the internet, and on television. Here the apostle Paul described our time as “perilous”—meaning difficult, dangerous and through the idea of reducing the strength.
Surely that time is here full force—so much so that it must be near its END!
A Year Like No Other
The year 2020 has been like no other I have experienced in my over 72 years of life. Not long ago, America’s top infectious disease expert said, “If you want to get to pre-coronavirus, that might not ever happen.” So far, this has been true in ways few could have imagined. The whole world turned upside down in just months.
Society has radically changed—with many familiar institutions bordering on absolute destruction. The stress of living in a world that is dangerous in every community—from the tiniest, remote villages to the world’s largest cities—is taking a powerful toll on human minds. Modern life in a “social distancing world” resembles a science fiction movie.
No crisis since World War II has captured virtually every headline of every major news source like COVID-19 did last year.
In March, the United Nations chief stated, “We are facing a global health crisis unlike any in the 75-year history of the United Nations—one that is killing people, spreading human suffering, and upending people’s lives. But this is much more than a health crisis. It is a human crisis. The coronavirus disease is attacking societies at their core.”
“The U.N. chief warned that the pandemic will ‘bring a recession that probably has no parallel in the recent past,’ adding that the crisis will also likely contribute to ‘enhanced instability, enhanced unrest, and enhanced conflict’” (National Review).
Only the Great Depression over 80 years ago compares. U.S. unemployment spiked to levels never seen in modern times. Fifty-four million people across America are currently food insecure. Think. Over one in seven people need assistance to fight hunger in the world’s richest nation. Astounding! What about the rest of the world?
Before the coronavirus, 135 million people faced critical levels of hunger. Now with crop failures, government lockdowns, loss of tourism and economic recession, another 130 million “could be pushed to the brink of starvation,” according to the World Food Program.
Pushing the limits of their already strenuous food resources, African countries were threatened by two waves of voracious locusts—with some hordes a staggering 20 times the size of those plaguing the Middle East and Africa the first time earlier in the year. Just in Ethiopia, locusts ate half a million acres of cropland and one million people are in need of food aid.
The executive director of the WFP said: “I must warn you that if we don’t prepare and act now—to secure access, avoid funding shortfalls and disruptions to trade—we could be facing multiple famines of biblical proportions within a short few months. The truth is, we do not have time on our side…” (CNN).
Again, it is the aftermath of these types of events coupled with the virus that leaves forward thinkers with grave concerns.
A World on Fire
There are times when crises build over weeks or months before peaking and disrupting the world. Such was the case with COVID-19. There are other times when sudden and dramatic events transform life seemingly in an instant. This happened May 25 when a Minneapolis police officer killed a man who had moments before resisted arrest, setting in motion unprecedented riots and unrest, eventually across the world.
Not since the civil rights era have tensions been so palpable. The infamous “eight minutes and forty-six seconds” changed everything.
Statues and historical monuments with any connection to slavery were torn down across the nation. Black Lives Matter protests swept the streets. Violence targeting whites perceived to be unsympathetic to the cause was widespread. Businesses were looted, vandalized and some altogether destroyed.
These protests will likely cost between $1-2 billion—one of the most expensive civil disorder events in the nation’s history, far surpassing the $775 million cost of the 1992 Los Angeles riots. In Portland alone, downtown businesses saw over $23 million in property damage.
A microcosm of what occurred across the nation: In Minneapolis/St. Paul, almost 1,500 businesses were heavily damaged after months of rioting. Nearly 150 buildings were set on fire and some were completely destroyed. Many small businesses were underinsured. Even the cost of demolishing these businesses is more than insurance will cover.
The world—and particularly the U.S.—has over and over been described as being “on fire.” You have seen the headlines. This is precisely how Isaiah put it. Speaking of the modern nations of Israel—the Anglo-Saxon English-speaking nations of the West—he recorded, “…your cities are burned with fire [the Hebrew is on fire]: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers” (1:7).
A great many more cities burned with fire beyond those ignited by rioters. From Southern California to Washington state and as far east as Colorado, some of the worst wildfires to ever strike America came in 2020. Over 52,000 separate fires destroyed about 9.5 million acres.
In September, a resident of San Francisco commented, “I woke up at 7 a.m. and thought my alarm was wrong because it was so dark. I didn’t smell smoke but had a feeling the fires were affecting the atmosphere. I pulled back my curtains to see the sky was dark orange and it felt so apocalyptic. I’ve lived in the Bay Area my whole life and never seen anything like it” (NBC News).
Portland, Oregon, residents reported ash from the smoke to be so thick it looked like snow! At a point, nearly 100,000 evacuated in the state, and the governor called the fires “a once-in-a-generation event.”
Just before Isaiah described cities on fire, he also explained, “Your country is desolate…” The word desolate means devastated in the sense of astonishment. This prophecy, too, is playing out before our eyes.
The streets of many cities across the world were largely empty because national leaders forbade people to travel, leave their homes, go to church, work, gyms, restaurants, malls—or even walk or exercise outside in some places. Coyotes, foxes, rats, dogs and feral cats roamed the vacant streets of cities, forming an astonishing futurescape that looked like it belonged in a post-apocalyptic world.
Do not lose sight of the fact that all of what I am writing about happened in the SAME YEAR!
Think of the explosion that rocked Beirut, Lebanon, in August. Shocking video footage—of the blast itself and of peoples’ reactions throughout the city—dominated news coverage. In a matter of seconds, lives were forever changed.
Now think of the record-breaking 2020 hurricane season that had 30 named storms—the most in a single season in 170 YEARS of record keeping. Just September had 10 storms, which is the highest number for any one month on record.
A derecho—also known as a land hurricane—struck the U.S. Midwest in August racing through 770 miles with winds up to 140 mph (equivalent to a Category 4 hurricane). It caused $7.5 billion in damage in a single day—the costliest severe thunderstorm in decades.
By all accounts, the world has never experienced a year like 2020. Throughout history there have been many “bad” years, but none that had so many compounding global problems. Reflect on the events of this unique year that have caused all people to yearn for change in a way never seen before—and use The Real Truth website to learn of the wonderful hope we can all have for it to END!