“Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York;
And all the clouds that lour’d upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.”
This remarkable prose is taken from the brilliant opening soliloquy of Shakespeare’s Richard III. Taken within their intended context the orator is celebrating the bright future ahead as they pass from despair into the glorious summer of a new era.
Unfortunately, our world is marching in lockstep toward our own winter of discontent and desolation. Pulitzer Prize-winning author, John Steinbeck, set forth his own elucidated rendition of man’s inner struggles in the aptly titled novel The Winter of our Discontent. Through Steinbeck’s protagonist, Ethan Allen Hawley, we grotesquely peer through the eyes of one man as he struggles through setbacks and tragedy, eventually embracing every immoral concession, to reimagine a niche of narcissistic personage.
I draw reference to Steinbeck’s Hawley as the exemplar of modern-day politicians and challenge you with this query, do the ends justify the means? This dissatisfaction with circumstances befallen our hero allows for the discontent to evolve into a caustic coalescence of envy and entitlement resulting in a moral betrayal of self-justified profit over societal jurisprudence.
Suffice it to say I challenge anyone to contradict these assertions that our failed society at large is the result of our collective malaise towards those that have traded moral value for their own rapacious remunerations. Have we not watched as the world has crumbled, nations struggling to find leadership, while self-serving demagogues manipulate nation against nation to achieve their evil outcomes? The winter of our discontent is now upon us.
When Steinbeck wrote these words it would seem as if he had been given the opportunity to peer through the glass darkly upon our world today. “Strength and success – they are above morality, above criticism.” Societal norms have become this win-at-all-costs objective that places desired outcomes above any moral standard or rule of law. Blind faith in supporting a platform of liberal progressivism has unleashed a set of ideals furthered through equivocation often lacking in details. The words are ambiguous at best which is why the leftist cognoscenti avoid debate – as if they haven’t the time to waste on trivialities – preferring to hide behind their ever-present cloak of identity politics. Speak out against these socialist/communist ideals and you’ll be declared a fascist or worse. This would seem to confirm beyond any reasonable doubt for our current-day provocateurs – the ends justify the means.
This approach is nothing new and to ascribe it to one side only would be to mislead ourselves, and in so doing, become guilty of that which we despise. Ah, but therein lies the entry point to this endeavor of wills. Those with the dirtiest hands often cast aspersions with the loudest voice. It’s a subterfuge of lies, the guilty projecting upon other persons or groups the very misdeeds with which they find themselves buried up to their own necks. One recent example, Paul Pelosi, husband to the Speaker of the House, was attacked in his own home. Outrage quickly followed as it should, in that our democracy has no place for violence if this was indeed a politically motivated attack. However, before any facts were made public, many on the left were quick to pass judgment and declare this act as yet another example of right-wing extremism gone too far. Don’t let the facts get in the way of another political opportunity to advance an agenda. However, you won’t find any of these same accusers – try as you might – calling out the highest-ranking leader in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, for his words aimed at members of our nation’s highest court.
Speaking before a crowd of abortion rights activists in 2020 on the steps of the Supreme Court where justices were hearing a challenge to a Louisiana law that required abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, Schumer threatened the justices –
“I want to tell you, Gorsuch; I want to tell you, Kavanaugh; You have released the whirlwind, and you will pay the price. You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions.”
More recently Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot got in on the act tweeting the following – “To my friends in the LGBTQ+ community – the Supreme Court is coming for us next. This moment has to be a call to arms.”
Apparently lost in the recent rhetoric of insanity attempting to link Trump and his supporters to the attack on Pelosi is this fact – not long after Schumer uttered his threats of violence at Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, police arrested a California man near the home of Justice Kavanaugh armed with a Glock 17 pistol, ammunition, a knife, zip ties, pepper spray, duct tape and other items that he confessed to police he’d planned to use to break into Kavanaugh’s home and kill him.
All of this is what I call autocratic gaslighting which is nothing more than one side projecting their own sins upon their political opponents in order to gain a self-defined moral high ground, seeing themselves as being above reproach, all for the sake of victory at any price. (You can read more on this subject through this link – Autocratic Gaslighting )
However, maybe it is time to take a step back, look at our world and ask the question – what prize are we hoping to win? We are distracted by the pettiness of our politicians while we lose sight of the larger world around us falling into chaos. That’s not to say we shouldn’t engage in our elections, by all means, we should make our voices heard and participate in the voting process. But don’t allow a finite worldview to replace the more important eternal pursuits that believers in Christ must strive to attain.
Jesus posed the following question,
“For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” Mark 8:37
Steinbeck wrote, “In business and in politics a man must carve and maul his way through men to get to be King of the mountain.” Winning at any cost to gain the whole world while forfeiting one’s soul. When we exist within the confines of a limited worldview it can be easy to forget that our battles are not to be waged man against man. Adhere to these words from the Apostle Paul,
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.” Ephesians 6 : 12-18
What we see today is that present darkness to which Paul referred, the spiritual forces of evil, revealing themselves through the manipulations of our world. In the books of Ezekiel and Revelation there exist descriptions of a leader, Gog, and the land of Magog, rising up in battle against Israel. These are described as end-times prophesies of what will be and the interpretations by many theologians would take days to even begin to explain but suffice it to say, most all conclude, this land of Magog represents Russia and Iran along with possibly Turkey and other eastern block nations that will join together against a common enemy.
According to recent reports on the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, we see right before us, Russian and Iranian troops working side-by-side fighting in Ukraine. This unholy alliance is staggering when you consider the eschatology of the Bible. What should come as little surprise is the support expressed by Erdogan of Turkey. In fact, in July of 2022, a summit was convened in Tehran that included Putin, Erdogan, and the leaders of Iran in a blatant anti-American alliance that includes Iran’s terrorist proxies such as Hezbollah. As a result, Iran finds itself comfortably exporting oil and weapons and attracting foreign investments, despite Western sanctions. When asked about the possibility of advanced Iranian weapons being sold to Russia, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin weakly stated, “We would advise Iran to not do that. We think that’s a really, really bad idea.” In response to these anemic remarks, Iran began exporting many advanced weapons, including unmanned drones, to Russia – along with troops for support – to directly aid in the fight with Ukraine. This emboldened unholy alliance seems to prove the feeble West is unable to bring any real pressure to bear against Iran and its ongoing pursuit of full-scale nuclear capabilities.
We must keep in mind, as Jan Markel of Olive Tree Ministries often says, “the world is not falling apart, it is falling into place according to God’s plans.” If you are a true believer in Christ you have a calling to be salt and light in an ever-darkening world. We have to understand that so many around us do not know the truth of the gospel and if we don’t share the good news of salvation – who will? The attacks on our morals, our beliefs, and our nation’s foundations are painful and hurtful but we have to arm ourselves with the truth and stand firmly on God’s principles. We should participate eagerly in our civic duties and vote in support of candidates and resolutions that support our Godly principles but we should also strive to avoid labeling those that oppose our values as our enemies. All have been created by God, in His own image, and those that reject Him are given over to their own evil ways. They are unable to decipher truth from lies and thus fall under the spell of evil cast by the father of lies.
In conclusion, Jesus offered these words of hope and instruction when asked by his disciples about the end times and His own return.
As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.
“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” Matthew 24 : 3-14
Returning to the words of Steinbeck through his protagonist he offers these words of observation, “Intention, good or bad, is not enough. There’s an awful lot of inactive kindness which is nothing but laziness, not wanting any trouble, confusion, or effort.”
As we find ourselves in this Winter of our Discontent we must challenge ourselves in every possible way. What do we believe and where do we stand. Do you go along simply to fit in, not wanting to draw undesired attention? Do you know what you believe? If you believe in Jesus and have taken that step of faith, as defined in Romans 10 : 9-10, “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved,” then you should live your life as a beacon of light, allowing the world to see the love of Christ in everything that you do. If you would like our help in sharing the good news with others, reach out to us at this link and simply request our free ministry cards that you can use as a way to start that conversation. Prayer Requests, Questions, Comments
If you are unsure or have not accepted Christ, please do not put it off any longer, use the link provided above to request prayer, ask questions, or simply say “I want to know more” and we will be there for you. This world is a dark place but I can assure you that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. Once you place your faith in Him you will find true and everlasting peace.
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John Stephen Frey – Director and Senior Editor, Life Beyond Horizons Ministry