I recently came across this lengthy article from the Atlantic, and it immediately reminded me of another article which I read years ago from the Art of Manliness. The Atlantic article deals with many salient issues related to our modern social turmoil, but the primary cause on that author's account is the erosion of trust within our society. AoM, by contrast, argues that it's merely a normal generational cycle of crises which has played out throughout the course of history. Essentially they're both saying the same thing, which is that societies tend to experience massive political and social upheaval roughly every 60 years.
Whether you acknowledge the election as a crisis or a victory for human decency (I put myself firmly in the latter category), there has been a general sense of foreboding about the future in my life for virtually this entire year. We all sense that something awful is coming, and we have yet to fully put our finger on what it is.
I believe in a Savior who is coming back someday to judge the earth. The more world events spiral out of control, the more many Christians feel validated that "Jesus is coming back any day now!!!" Though it may be comforting to think that we will get to skip out on any kind of tribulation, I don't find that view particularly biblical. I also think it smacks of C.S. Lewis's "chronological snobbery" to think that we are the most modern and advanced generation that has ever lived, and certainly must be the ones who will never taste of mortal death. In fact, the first recorded Viking raid on the monastic community of Lindisfarne in 793 AD was taken by the English monks (and by all of Europe as the word spread) as a sign that the Man of Perdition had come, and the end of days must surely be upon us. What it really was was a single tumultuous event, signaling the beginning of a new era of greater uncertainty when Vikings would be raiding at will along the European coast.
History is replete with turning points. Though the 20th century was indeed a time of great upheaval, the likes of which we hope to never see again, I wish to discourage the kind of chronological snobbery that leads us to think we will certainly be the ones to see God's plan come to fruition in our lifetimes. We should definitely have a sense of hopeful expectancy that God can and will do whatever he pleases, but also remain steadfast and fixed upon Him as we patiently endure without becoming swept away by our emotions.
If our generation is facing a period of upheaval and global crisis (as seems increasingly likely), I would counsel everyone to remember that pain is one of God's primary tools for pruning you. Whether our nation fractures due to internal disputes, or faces an existential threat, we must remember that God has not called us to a life of idle monasticism; but rather to engage meaningfully with our culture in order to meet felt needs. In our generation, those felt needs are largely social. For instance, the church should be leading the charge, not taking up the rear, on issues of racial justice. We should also be calling for unity in the Body, not pushing political parties as the primary vehicles for social change. We should "hate what is evil, and cling to what is good." We should clothe the naked, feed the hungry, and welcome the foreigner and the destitute and the uninsured. Above all, we need to be about the business of trying to seek and save the lost.
Finally, we need to ready our minds and hearts for action, because the time is fast approaching when dark forces in the world will once again cast society into disarray. Christians should be at the vanguard of whatever crisis our society faces, bringing not just practical solutions, but spiritual warfare and prayerful, loving care for those who are most deeply affected. If it's a war, let us fight bravely. If it's a global health crisis, let us tenderly and selflessly give of our time and resources to help those less fortunate. Whatever it is, God will be there. The task falls to us to not grow weary in well-doing.