Understanding the times

Understanding the times

Understanding the times

by Dave Carter
23rd March 2020

Many of us recently are probably grappling with the question “How do we approach times like this?” We face a situation which is almost unprecedented, where we’re having to adjust our pattern of living, when the situation changes daily and we don’t know what will happen next.

It feels like as soon as we grasp the latest news and advice something new crops up which we then have to process. In my work as a GP I spent a whole day helping people using the current advice on symptom management and quarantine, only for the official advice to change before my working day was done! I say this not as a commentary on anyone involved in the decisions, but merely to illustrate the point that everything is changing so rapidly it can make your head spin.

How on earth do we as Christians process what’s going on? What should be our response?

I’ve been reading through 1 Chronicles recently, and today came to the passage which mentions the men of Issachar, who “understood the times and knew what Israel should do”.1 For a verse that doesn’t really say a lot else, I’ve seen a lot of stuff written about this over the years, with varying different theories as to how to be like these men and be wise in the season we’re living in.

How to understand the times? If only there was a quick, easy answer that we could plug in! If only it was merely a matter of claiming the anointing of Issachar and all would become clear….

Whilst we all realise there is no magical one-size fits all answer to be found in this verse, I believe one of the keys to understanding the times is found in it very simply.

The men of Issachar understood the times….. and knew what Israel should do.

Rather than merely seeking to understand the times, we often simply need to consider what we should do. Just seeking to understand what is going on and then sitting back with a smug “told you so” attitude is never the answer. We are called to be a people of action through faith and compassion.

In some ways, our response then becomes relatively simple. What do we do in times like this? “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.'”2

We trust that Jesus gives us wisdom and understanding, and helps us in our decisions in difficult times. We need to remember that our greatest calling is always to enjoy intimacy with God, and from that flows our commission to reach the world with the love of Jesus.

How do we understand these times? As an opportunity to draw closer to God, and a chance to love those around us. Sometimes that’s all we need to hear.



  • 1 Chronicles 12 v 32
  • Luke 10 v 27