What to Do When It Seems Like the World Is Falling Apart

The world is falling apart.

At least that’s what it feels like on some days. Our culture mistreats the family, we throw aside the most vulnerable and we replace true freedom with our own selfish desires. Pope Francis refers to our current age as a “throw away culture.” And with the bad news we see in our world on an almost daily basis, the darkness only seems to grow.

A few years ago, I experienced this darkness very personally. I worked in an office where a TV was on all day showing the world news in our break room. I would walk in to grab a cup of coffee and my eyes would catch a few minutes of the world falling to pieces. In what seemed like seconds, the news flashed from wars to economic downturns to natural disasters. Fear grabbed my heart and strangled my courage.

These moments are the moments that make or break us. It’s tempting to think that we are the only ones who have seen this kind of darkness, but all times have. And when the darkest times hit, that’s when the greatest saints were made.

So in the moments where we find ourselves tempted to despair and doubt when we see the state of the world, the words of St. Thomas More can inspire us and remind us of our call to greatness.

He exclaimed, “The times are never so bad that good men cannot live in them.”

We were chosen by God for our time, as dark as that time may be. And the best example we can look to of a good man living in a rough time is none other than St. Joseph. During this season of Advent, St. Joseph is a model of how we can face the difficulties in the world with courage.

St. Joseph went through a lot. He traveled many miles with his pregnant wife only to find there was nowhere for them to stay, nowhere for her to give birth. But he made the most of the situation, and the King of the World was born not in the glory of castle, but in the glory of a loving family.

An angel warned St. Joseph in a dream that his family was in danger: The government wanted to kill his son. He had leave immediately and take his family to a foreign land, where they had no relatives and no work. Can you imagine his thoughts at that moment? He probably felt fear, regret and even anger. But he didn’t let his emotions overcome him, and he courageously acted with trust in God. He got up and immediately took his family to Egypt.

Here’s what we can learn from the courage of St. Joseph in our own day and age:

1. We must cast out fear by taking our thoughts captive.

St. John exclaims, “Perfect love cast out fear” (1 John 4:16). But before we have this perfect love, we must recognize our fears by “taking captive every thought” (1 Corinthians 10:5). We are not emotionless creatures. It’s not fear that’s the problem; it’s how we respond to it. We need to write these thoughts down and then take them to a spiritual director or friend who can help guide us through them. By responding with courage, we can exclaim with St. Paul, “I do all things in him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

2. Stop looking at the problems and start looking for solutions.

Good men do not remain idle. Look at the saints: They didn’t see the cultural tides they were up against as barriers that couldn’t be overcome. They fed the poor, they reformed seminaries, they converted nations, they gave themselves generously to their families — and when all else seemed to have failed, they gave themselves completely over to God. It’s our faithfulness that counts, and it’s our faithfulness that will drive us to do great deeds for Jesus and His Church.

A word of encouragement: This Advent and Christmas, take a moment to walk outside and look at stars.

They shine triumphantly in the darkness. It’s the light that attracts our heart, not the darkness. St. John writes of the birth of Jesus: “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:4-5).

Our times may be dark, but all times have been. Christmas reminds us that we are called to “shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15). Our own age is in need of courageous saints who overcome their fears and inadequacies and become stars in the night. Nothing is dark enough to stifle the hearts of those who follow Jesus Christ. And even the smallest light breaks the darkness.

What is one fear that you are currently facing, and how can you start to courageously overcome it?

Nathan Stanley
Nathan Stanley
Nathan Stanley is a writer, speaker and full-time staff member with FOCUS where he currently serves as the Sr. Director of Talent & Leadership Development. Nathan has provided training and catechesis on evangelization, discipleship, leadership, organizational culture and strategy to young people, parish staff, and clergy throughout the country. Nathan encountered Jesus Christ as a student at Benedictine College and became a FOCUS missionary upon his graduation in 2004. Nathan's passion for Christ and His Church is the foundation of his leadership. Nathan is dedicated to raising up the next generation of Catholic leaders for the Church and society. Nathan graduated magnum cum laude with a M.A. in Theology from the Augustine Institute. He married, Lauren, in 2010 and they live outside of Denver Colorado with their three children.

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