Rebecca K. Reynolds

Honest Company for the Journey

7 Types of People in Troubled Times : Which Type Are You?

(Paraphrased in modern language from one of Bonhoeffer's Letters)

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Friends, these are confusing times. In fact, has there ever been a time more confusing than this time in which we are living?

It seems like there are no good options left for us, no good choices, because there is so much chaos and evil in the world.

If we look back into past times of uncertainty, can we find examples of people who were able to wait with calmness and confidence? Or is it normal for those living through upheaval to have questions like ours? 

Evil is tricky, and that is part of our present confusion. It mixes up good and bad so that it is difficult to tell the difference between them.

Sometimes evil puts on a false costume so that it looks like justice, or generosity, or need, of social justice.  

For those of you who have grown up on Biblical principles, watching this masquerade will affirm to you what you have been taught about the deceptive abilities of sin. You will recognize what is happening in our culture, because you have been told for many years that moral confusion would be a work of the evil one.

What are some common reactions of the public in times like these? Let me define seven types of people that you are likely to find over the next few years.


Some people will have naive ideas about what is reasonable during times like this. They will think that we can just apply a little bit of P.R. and fix what is broken in the world. They will think that it's possible to make everybody happy, finding a way to appease everyone's sense of justice, no matter how different opposing views are.

When these attempts at diplomacy don't work, naive, reasonable people will get sulky and discouraged and just step aside, letting whoever happens to be strongest take charge of the situation.


There will also be fanatics. Fanatics live so pumped up on their own ideals that they start to believe that they are qualified for single-handed attacks on evil. But fanatics are often fools. They are like angry bulls rushing at a matador's cape, missing the matador. 

Fanatics are easy targets for evils, because they get snarled up in peripheral issues, freaking out about every situation that surfaces. They think they are doing good by blowing off some righteous steam, not realizing they are falling into a trap laid by more intelligent people. They allow their anger and zeal to lead, not realizing that they are being manipulated. They don't know how to play chess.


Next we have the man of conscience, that noble soul willing to face impossible odds by making hard decisions. But when a situation is too big for him, he has no wisdom to help him know what to do except the guidance of his own gut feelings. 

He quickly finds that he is outmanned by an evil that disguises itself, that plays with his moral inclinations like a cat with a mouse, and that confuses him until he feels dazed and nervous. One day he wakes up and realizes that he is unable to know what is right after all. So, he just begins making choices that he hopes will make himself feel better, which is no help to the greater cause at all.


Because other options for attacking evil are so tricky and confusing, some people find comfort in duty. They like simply doing what they are told and leaving the consequences to their authority figures. However, if a person can never step outside of sheer mechanical obedience, the occasional risks necessary to defeat evil will not be taken, and harm will be done as well as good.


And so we have the man of freedom. He sees how sometimes a deed must be done that violates traditional beliefs about morality and that might ruin his reputation. He is willing to go there. He is practical about his moral principles, and sometimes put those beliefs aside for the greater good. But this also is a trap. Because as this man tries to choose the lesser of two evils over and again, eventually he will not be able to recognize what is good at all.


Seeing how dangerous it is to fight evil, how easy it is to make a mistake, some people grow afraid and simply hide. They don't want to be dirtied up by messing with the wrongs of the world, so they act like children and try to find a blanket to hide under and play while darkness takes ground. 

But to hide, we must ignore the terrific injustices being done all about us. Not only is this selfish, but it is ineffective. Withdrawal eventually steals our peace.  Either the internal pressure of what is being ignored will grow too hot to bear, or the passive soul will grow cold harden into the persona of a hypocrite.


There is only one sort of person who can thrive in impossible times like these, and it is not the person of reason, of principle, of conscience, of freedom, or of virtue. The person who will thrive in troubling times is the one who is willing and eager to sacrifice everything when God calls him to act in faith, with allegiance only to God. 

A victor in chaos is willing to let his entire life function as "an answer to the question and call of God."