WHY DOESN’T IT WORK?
I have attempted to create a picture of the finest and best features in this wonderful world. The humanist is right: this world contains ample resources that, coupled with the best efforts of caring people, should result in a world full of satisfied, happy people. But, alas, there is a flaw in this beautiful picture.
You would think you could find continuous satisfaction, peace, and enjoyment from family life, social life, friendships, school and church associates, and professional contacts without giving God a thought.
As I reflect across the last decade, the death of my first wife Eva interrupted that human fellowship. I married again and three years later my wife Marcey died suddenly. Jim Baker, one of my best friends who traveled with me all over the world, suddenly died of a brain aneurysm; he was only fifty-two. Art DeMoss, a fifty-three-year-old businessman with whom I shared ministry assignments many times, died of a heart attack on the tennis court. A college official whom I respected greatly suddenly announced that he was resigning his position, divorcing his wife, and marrying someone else. Just several weeks ago, a tearful young lady with two young children told me that her husband had announced that he was leaving her. No warning. No explanation.
Time, on September 15, 1986, reported that the health cost of drug abuse was estimated by one National Center for Health Statistics study at 59.7 billion dollars. The medical bill for alcohol abuse was estimated at an astonishing 146.7 billion dollars. [As of 2002, drug abuse costs had increased to 180.9 billion² and alcohol abuse costs to 185 billion.³]
Earlier in this chapter, I wrote optimistically about the pleasures of courtship that deepens into a happy, lifetime marriage. Present reality shatters that beautiful hope. [In 2008, there were 2,157,000 marriages and 844,000 divorces in the U.S.4]
I wrote of the benefits of friendship, cooperation, teamwork, and recognition. To my dismay, I listen daily to a recital of the failure of human effort, of marriage partners who have deceived and cheated each other. We have become accustomed to reports of lying, cheating, and stealing in business and politics. There is strife and discord at every level of life—from the boardroom to the classroom to the family room.
The Florida legislature has struggled with what to do to halt teenage pregnancy. About twenty-five thousand teenagers gave birth in Florida the year before I wrote this course, costing more than 125 million dollars in subsidized health care and welfare payments. More than one million teenagers became pregnant that same year in our country, and almost half chose to have abortions. Ninety-two percent of these pregnancies were unintended.
In this wonderful world, families are breaking up, incidents of child abuse and other family violence are growing, and delinquency, theft, murder and crime, escalating venereal diseases, and emotional disorders threaten our survival. There are multitudes starving to death and nations destroying each other.
Finding relief from tension is what some may think of as peace. People often turn to friendship, fellowship, challenges, opportunities, travel, and materialism, but they are as illusive as turning to drugs and alcohol. Initially there is hope, comfort, pleasure, but sooner or later our efforts turn to ashes and result in increased loneliness, grief, tension, or bitterness.
The Humanist Manifesto II says:
Happiness and the creative realization of human needs and desires, individually and in shared enjoyment, are continuous themes of humanism. . . . Critical intelligence, infused by a sense of human caring, is the best method that humanity has for resolving problems.. . . (p. 18)
It seems clear to me that the finest human effort in a magnificent world is not enough to quiet the human heart in times of trouble and stress.
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace.
In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33, NKJV
Based on all the options we have in going after peace, we should take careful note when Jesus gently tells us to turn to Him for peace. We can turn to Him, and not the world, if the peace we seek is to be deeply satisfying and lasting.