On my national talk radio show, on social media and in person, I encounter more and more people who feel like something bad is coming. People seem convinced of it.

The better off among us are more dismissive, but even some of them are fretful. The Christians refer to the “birth pangs” from an old reading of the Gospels, better known as either birth pains or labor contractions.

“As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?’ And Jesus answered them, ‘See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.” Matthew 24:3-8 (ESV).

Labor contractions become more frequent over time. We seem to be in a period of escalating calamities. COVID-19 shocked people. It seemed to be a dividing line. There are things pre-COVID-19 and things post-COVID-19. Post-COVID-19 is almost always worse. There are wars, inflation, social decay, increasing violence, greater disrespect for life and law, and international intrigue. One must be very careful to view the end times through the present times. What is happening now can skew our view.

But something does seem to be happening, and not just in the United States. Social unrest in democracies is growing. Chinese society, under the surface, is destabilizing with economic catastrophe looming and restless young men ready for a fight. In the United States, major cities seem to be collapsing as white progressives tell us not to believe our eyes. The transgender phenomenon, a phenomenon almost, but not entirely, confined to upper-income white atheists and angry, progressive single moms’ children, has spread through the zeitgeist and anyone who speaks truth to the new power is bullied, if not canceled.

Everyone feels uneasy. A spiritual rot has set in. People are leaving churches for politics and political rallies and travel ball. Churches themselves have turned inward, fighting amongst themselves in interdenominational clashes. The poor are left to the government while the churches fight over the song selection. Cults of personality are on the rise inside and outside churches and institutions as the megapastor and the political pulpit excite more people than an eternity fewer and fewer believe in.

There are ways through this feeling of malaise and dread. But it takes an upbeat message from national leaders and church engagement. Ours are too busy carving up constituencies to reward or vilify. One cannot expect a national mood shift and a vibe shift when the politicians are calling everyone to their lesser selves and worst nature.

Through it all, there is one data point that should give us hope. The more a person goes to church — and yes, specifically a Bible-believing church, not just a feel-good motivational institution — the more a person has a sense of optimism and a sense of charity. The Christian who takes his faith seriously is still more likely to give to charity, more likely to love his neighbor regardless of politics and more likely to engage in his local community outside of politics.

As atheism rises in America, hopelessness will too. The media is in full disaster-porn mode with global warming. People with no hope in tomorrow have only rage against what they cannot control fueling their mood. They can do everything right, but their neighbor might mess it up for everyone. That mindset breeds contempt, not love, for neighbors.

So many people, mostly plugged into politics and news headlines, have a lingering sense of dread. This too will actually pass. The present discombobulation will heal. But it might heal faster if everyone touches more grass outside and less glass on their phones.

To find out more about Erick Erickson and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
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