Senator John McCain said it pretty well not long before his passing: "The world is in greater turmoil than at any time in my lifetime."
No matter where you live in the world, you're feeling that "the times, they are a'changin'." There's a lot that's broken. And problems so complex that every solution seems to create another problem.
Jesus-followers in many countries share concerns over a growing antipathy toward things Christian... unsettling political trends... increasingly destructive political rhetoric... families collapsing... spiraling rates of depression and suicide... and accelerating moral upheaval.
Today, I found myself dwelling on a timeless promise from God's own lips. It's been reiterated in many a sermon I've heard over the years. And it's been proven true many times in history. Right now these words are the beacon of light in a dark night.
God says: "I will heal their land."
I think He's the only one who can. Healing any land goes too deep, too far to be fixed by any election, any human leader, any protest or movement. But God can do in a day what man could not do in 50 years.
But His healing promise is conditional. It starts with some sobering "ifs."
"If My people, who are called by name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and heal their land" (2 Chronicles 7:14).
All those talking heads on television, debating and accusing ad nauseum, will never arrive at the only genuine answer for any broken nation.
God's people. Humble. Praying. Seeking His face. Turning from their "wicked ways."
Not waging word wars on social media. Not getting swept up in the powerful currents of mean-spirited, polarized politics. Or standing by with a subtle sense of spiritual superiority. Or withdrawing into a spiritual cocoon where they make no difference.
We squander our spiritual capital when we try to win an argument instead of winning a heart. When we succumb to seeing people as categories, not souls.
God says He will "heal our land" when we humble our hearts. In many ways, as God's people go, so goes a nation. Because Jesus said we are "the light of the world" (Matthew 5:14). If it's dark, it's because the light went out. The hope of a nation doesn't lie with its politicians. It is ultimately decided by God's people doing what God says. As Peter said, "It is time for judgment to begin with God's household" (1 Peter 4:17).
Even America's history bears that out. The First Great Awakening helped open the way to the Revolution that birthed our nation. The Second Great Awakening is considered a major catalyst in a movement of social reforms, most notably, the Abolitionist movement and the end of slavery. Both started, not in the White House, but in God's house.
So what does it take to heal a nation? God's people "at the altar." Surrendering their self-reliance and pride for a new spirit of desperate dependency on God, not programs or activity. "Valuing others above yourselves" (Philippians 2:3). "Humbling" ourselves.
That humility intuitively drives us to "pray." Fervently. Faithfully. Our trust in God can best be measured, not by our rhetoric, but by the frequency and fervency of our prayers. "The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results" (James 5:16).
Then God's healing prescription moves to His people "seeking His face." Each of us prioritizing our time with Him, pursuing His heart. The more we're with Him, the more we'll be like Him.
The final "if" is probably the one we resist most. "Turn from their wicked ways." We tend to be much better at pointing out the sins of others than facing our own. Without excusing or rationalizing or blaming. God can start healing a nation when we, as His people, start abandoning our selfishness and lust, our unforgiveness and lies, our prejudice and pride, our love of "earth stuff" and neglect of reaching the lost. And when we start making things right in our personal world - "Confess your faults to one another... that you may be healed" (James 5:16).
When God's people make humility and prayer and purity their passion and cause, "then will I hear from heaven and forgive their sin and heal their land."
What will it take to heal any broken nation? God's waiting on us.