Tough Times are a matter of perspective and experience. We see many trying and tragic things happening daily. Some think we are “in the last days” because the politics, economics, wars, evil and such have accelerated beyond what we have ever seen. This is not new to history or to philosophic thought.
When Paul, an apostle, wrote his letter to the Church of Rome (AD 57), it was just three years after the 16-year-old Nero became the Emperor of Rome. Nero was as equally corrupt as Caligula whom he replaced. The evils of Nero start with various sexual scandals and obsessive interest in arts and sports. He eventually murdered his mother and two of his wives to secure his throne. His debauchery, cruelty and evil were excessive. After various wives and mistresses he married a male servant and he dressed as the bride at the ceremony. He later married another young male servant after having him castrated. He is also believed to have started the fire that burned a great portion of Rome (in AD 64) and later blamed it on the Christians whom he despised. This led to massive persecution and mistreatment of Christians. Tradition has it that he had both Paul and Peter killed. Paul was beheaded and Peter was crucified upside down on a cross. Nero tried to commit suicide and lost his nerve and had his private servant kill him at the age of 30 before being arrested by the Roman Senate.
This is why and how Paul could open his Roman letter with these words:
“So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies. They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved.
Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy. They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.”
Tough Times have been around a long time. Corruption of leaders and nations has as well. Trying to live faithfully in Tough Times has always been tough.
“You will stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell the rulers and other unbelievers about me.” Jesus