The Decade: A Personal Review

As a historian, I have to evaluate what has transpired over time. This past decade, as the cartoon above indicates, has had some pretty rough spots: the contested 2000 presidential election; the horror of 9/11; the War on Terror that divided us as a people; natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina; the massive financial crisis that came to the forefront just prior to the 2008 elections; the ushering in of a president and Congress that believes we should spend our way to prosperity and that the government needs to run the economy.

These are the kinds of things that can keep us up nights, if we allow them to dominate our thoughts. I know I spend a lot of time commenting on the problems and warning of the consequences. Yet that doesn’t make me a pessimistic person. I can’t be a pessimist because I do have faith in a God who continues to work in human history despite all the obvious problems. That doesn’t mean everything’s going to come out all right, but it does mean that those who trust in Him will still see Him in the midst of the crises.

On a personal level, as I review the past decade, I see the hand of God in my own life. There were rough spots for me as well. At one point, I was so discouraged that I believed I should stop teaching. But I can testify that just when things seem like they have hit bottom, there is where you find God showing you the way up and out again.

I made the move to Florida and to Southeastern University not really confident that this was the place I would stay. Now, nearly four years later, I have received a promotion to full professor, I’ve been appointed chair of a department, and my desire to teach these students has grown markedly each year.

Another rough spot was a cancer diagnosis for my wife in September 2008. We didn’t follow the usual path for treatment, but by faith chose a path less-traveled. Today she is cancer-free.

Along the way, I’ve come to appreciate God’s providence in a new way. When a problem arises now, I don’t automatically start worrying; instead I get a sense that this is simply another situation where He will reveal to me His ways. No, I’m not perfected yet, but I have a newfound confidence that He truly is a “lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”

I pray [and I use that word deliberately, not as a cliche] that this new year—and this new decade—will only reveal His hand even more to a greater number of people. May we be revitalized in Him personally, and may that revitalization spread throughout a nation that probably doesn’t deserve His grace, but desperately needs it.

As you enter into 2010, look for Him. We are promised that if we seek Him with all our heart, He will be found.