Every day greets us with more bad news. We wake from fitful sleep, glance at our phones, and learn that there’s been a bombing in Yemen. Or that the Zika virus is spreading. Or that there are more bizarre—and sinister—reports of people dressed as clowns, lurking behind trees, intimidating children. And that’s before we even read election news, stories that swarm with demoralizing, ugly, and even violent messages. It’s tempting to think that life has never been this hopeless … that things have never been this bad.

For the fourth time in about a month, yet another one of my friends tells me she’s “unplugging.” In valiant attempts not to lose heart completely, these friends retreat from social media, silence the notifications on their phones, and leave the TV off.

Bible with coffee mug on a table

Collectively, our whole country seems to be in the hold of a mild depression—or perhaps it’s not so mild after all. Our hearts break for the plight of Syrian refugees. We’re shocked by the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew. We grieve that our children must routinely practice lockdown drills in their classrooms because the threat of violence—even in the sanctuary of their schools—has become so commonplace. Fear of terrorist attacks, at home or abroad, lives with us, humming in the background of our lives like a buzzing, flickering fluorescent bulb.

But, as the writer of Ecclesiastes says, there is nothing new about the oppression of the poor, nothing new about having corrupt leaders motivated by greed, and nothing new about the shock and seeming meaninglessness of violence and tragedy. “Don’t long for ‘the good old days,’” the writer warns. “This is not wise.” (Ecclesiastes 7:10).

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