Two recent surveys show a nation that is trending downward when it comes to optimism. The first is the American Psychological Association’s (APA) annual Stress in America survey.  Lynn Bufka, a clinical psychologist with the APA, called the level of shared stress among Americans “startling.”  ”A full 87% say that the rise of prices on everyday items due to inflation is a significant source of stress.”  Beyond this, 84% of respondents felt the Russian invasion of the Ukraine is “terrifying to watch.”

Further, a Marist College Poll survey showed a majority of Americans are “concerned that America’s moral compass is pointed in the wrong direction.”  “Some 72% of Americans say the nation’s moral compass is pointed in the wrong direction, while only 22% say it’s pointed the right way.” Among Christians, 74% agree that the nation is moving in the wrong direction morally, while 69% of those who don’t practice a religion agree.

The APA believes that “living through historic threats like these often has a lasting, traumatic impact on generations.” They feel it is important to “provide help to everyone who needs it” and suggest “evidence-based treatment.”  However, the Marist Poll also found that “some 79% of Americans reported turning to their family for moral guidance, including 83% of Christians.  The report notes that “Americans actually find themselves looking to family more often than religious teachings when looking for sources of moral guidance.”

My interpretation of these conclusions suggests help comes from two primary sources: “healthcare professionals” and family.  Family points in the direction of trusted relationships and community. My contention is that in the days to come, those committed to Jesus and his kingdom will need strong communities of faith to remain strong in their convictions and witness.

I cannot stress how important it is for any man who is still living a “lone ranger” spirituality to realize how much he needs a believing community.  It is vital for your family as well.  You will need to band together with other believing families to withstand the opposition you will be facing.  It is going to get darker.  We will need to be surrounded by “children of light.” “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Live as children of light…” (see Eph. 5:8-10). 

I personally sense the stress level rising in our nation.  Anxiety increases as people realize they are being lied to by the dominant cultural narrative.   People are confused by “misinformation.”  “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness” (Is. 5:20).   The Lord is saying, “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you” (Eph. 5:14).

Sleepwalkers avoid the truth, while being swayed by deception.  Jesus said, “whoever lives by the truth comes into the light” (John 3:21).  Those asleep are being influenced by false prophets, who say all the right things to enhance a false narrative of unreality.  Jesus warned us of this danger: “Be wary of false preachers who smile a lot, dripping with practiced sincerity.  Chances are they are out to rip you off some way or other.  Don’t be impressed with charisma: look for character” (Matt. 7:15-16 – Message).  

“Walk by the light you have,” Jesus reminds us, “so darkness doesn’t destroy you.  If you walk in darkness, you don’t know where you’re going.  As you have the light, believe in the light.  Then the light will be within you and shining through your lives.  You’ll be children of light” (John 12:35-36 – Message).  My advice, surround yourself with “children of light.”