Years ago, there was a Broadway play called, “Stop the World – I Want to Get Off.” Opening in 1961, it ran for 485 performances. It was even turned into a movie and was revived from time to time, but the most memorable part of the production was its title. It was set against the backdrop of a circus and the central character, Littlechap, would shout, “Stop the world!” whenever he encountered something unpleasant.
|Maybe the world needs an emergency brake.|
I feel that way sometimes, wanting to yell, “Stop the world!” It seems the backdrop for just about everything these days is some kind of circus, whether it’s politics and the menagerie we fondly call Washington, D.C.; the clowns who dominate our national media; the garish sideshow we know as the entertainment industry, or the sad state of many of the once-esteemed centers of higher learning that seem to specialize in college indoctrination, not education.
But that’s merely the iceberg’s tip. It seems like every moment there’s reason for wanting to yell, “Stop, the world, I want to get off!” Deranged terrorists intent on killing people in the name of their god. Protesters demanding tolerance while demonstrating just how intolerant they are toward anyone that doesn’t agree with them and their causes. So many other examples of mankind’s unlimited capacity for inhumanity toward one another.
Then there are the personal struggles and pain that are part and parcel of the human condition. We could easily justify throwing in the proverbial towel – until we remember that our hope is not (or should not be) in this imperfect world.
The apostle Paul listed the many hardships he had encountered since his conversion to faith in Jesus Christ – “hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).
Then he made this observation: “We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body…. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:10-18).
Perhaps there were moments for Paul, too, when the “stop the world, I want to get off!” thought passed through his mind. However, he never forgot his mission – and he never forgot where his focus needed to remain. “… while we wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good” (Titus 2:13-14).
Waiting for “the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of Jesus Christ.” That’s what uplifts me, gives me encouragement whenever life’s circumstances take a bad turn, or I foolishly subject myself to the barrage of continuous bad news and the relentless parade of examples of just how sinful, self-absorbed and depraved humankind can be.