I saw a cartoon the other day depicting a group of people peering fearfully around a corner towards a door marked ‘2024’. One of them was timidly poking the door open with a broomstick. I can’t reproduce it for you without infringing copyright and I was loath to even mention it because of the negative message it conveys. However, I think it puts the situation well because we have to face facts; our global and national situation is predominantly ‘negative’. I want so much to be optimistic as I peer through the slowly opening door of 2024, but I cannot.
It is better to face reality head-on and with open eyes, as we trust God to walk with us into the future.
There is every indication that 2024 could be a pivotal year for the world in general and South Africa in particular. What happens outside of my country will continue to affect us here at the tip of Africa, but it will also affect many of us personally through our family and friends in other parts of the world. However, I will only comment on the global situation in as much as it is likely to affect South Africa.
It is obvious to anyone even vaguely politically, economically, and environmentally aware that the world is on an accelerating downward escalator.
All this casts a huge stress on the rest of the world. Moreover, to top it all off the USA, the world’s last traditional superpower, is facing a contentious presidential election that could even further divide and destabilise. And my poor country, the tarnished rainbow nation, faces its own day of reckoning.
2024 South Africa
South Africa’s only contributions to the world crises seem to be to side publically and noisily with Hamas and the Palestinians, vote for the United Nations condemnation of Israel, and take Israel to the World Court of Justice for committing genocide. This does not help us as a nation in any way that I can see. On the contrary, it antagonises our major trading partners and investors without any noticeable recompense from China, Russia and the Arab nations. So, it looks like we will be facing our own meltdown without international support.
On the political front, we have a national election that will take place sometime this year where the possible outcomes are all potentially momentous in one way or another. If the ANC retain 40% plus of the vote it is more than likely that they will be able to cobble together a coalition government with a few small parties or the EFF (Horror!) Whatever the constituency of this coalition, they will still be the majority and controlling party … and the slide into a failed state will no doubt continue. If the opposition Multi-Party Charter coalition wins 51% plus then things will at least have a chance of changing for the good, although the first few years will most likely be characterised by power plays between member politicians … but perhaps not. In the first scenario, we will plunge further and more rapidly into social and economic ruin, and in the second scenario, we will stop the plunge to destruction and even slowly turn the graph upwards in a growth trajectory. Both of these possibilities will mean that we the citizens will be facing years of uncertainty, threat, and hardship. Not pleasant to contemplate or accept but probably inevitable.
But, hold on Chris, aren’t you looking at the glass as half-empty rather than half-full? No, I am seeing it as a quarter full at best! We face that reality. OK, but what of the possibility of spiritual revival?
I am one of those people who believe that we are yet to have the greatest revival in history.
God sends revival not as a reward, but as a response to the desperate spiritual need of the church and society.
The darker the day, the more we should expect the light of Heaven to break through. However, something that history has taught us is that although revivals come suddenly they tend to start locally and then slowly spread to other parts of a nation and then the wider world. Many folks think that if we in South Africa were to experience revival today, then everything would change overnight. This just does not seem to be realistic. John Wesley’s Methodist movement was a revival that some historians hold that it saved England from experiencing a French-revolution-type social uprising. This is probably true, but it did not all happen in a moment. John Wesley was a prolific preacher, addressing crowds twice a day almost every day of every week. In 1739 he preached his first open-air sermon, in 1741 he preached regularly in South Wales, in 1747 he preached (42 times) in Ireland and in 1751 he ministered 27 times in Scotland. That covers a period of about 12 years. It did not happen in a day!
So, would revival change South Africa and other countries? Yes, but it will most likely take quite a bit of time. That then begs the question, ‘What should we do in 2024?’
2024 Individual Response
I don’t suppose there is much in this article that most of you do not already know, and the same applies to this final section. However, these three practical and personal suggestions bear repeating. We need to know and live out these things if we are to thrive in 2024.
- Strengthen relationships with Jesus, family, friends, and church: Strengthening the relationship with the Lord Jesus should always be a priority, but never so much as now. It is he who said: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) In addition Paul wrote: ‘God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5-6) Then the next most important relationship to strengthen is with spouses, children, parents, and extended family. Friends, true friends, are rare and valuable, and we need to be a friend and receive friendship in these times. Then there is the church, your local church, which could be an extended family for you.
- Pray, expect revival, and submit everything to God: Pray alone, in groups, or as part of a congregation. Pray in tongues in the spirit. Expect revival at any time: if we do not expect it then we may not perceive it. I recently heard a church historian saying that we often only recognise revivals in hindsight. That is a little sad because it says a lot about the lack of response to revival when it comes.
- Vote: I have written about this recently HERE, but let me repeat this: ‘If we do not democratically remove the current government from power in the soon-coming general elections, then almost everyone, except them, fears that we will plunge over the edge of the abyss into the horror of a Failed State. All citizens of South Africa, whether Christians or not, need to vote’.