Take a look around you. What do you see?
“People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power.” 2 Timothy 3:1-5 (NIV)
It's undeniable. Almost everywhere you look around the world, it's easy to spot all of the above.
What about this?
“You will hear of wars and rumors of wars … Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.” Matthew 24:6-7
“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold,” Matthew 24:9-13
And what about this?
“Have not I commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 (NIV)
“Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name …” Matthew 24:4 (NIV)
“… but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved …” Matthew 24:13 (NIV)
Sure, there are numerous things that, if we choose to dwell upon them, can take the wind straight out of our sails … if we let them. There are many who might look at what's happening in the world today as signs of “the end times”, whatever that is. But I say that things like what's happening around us, or something very similar, have happened throughout history, over and over again. I ask you, within the past 1¼ century, how many wars have been fought around the Earth?
Well, let's see …
There was the second Anglo-Boer War, the First World War, the Russian Civil War, the Irish War of Independence, the Irish Civil War, the Second World War, the Korean War, the Kenya Emergency, the Suez Crisis, the Malayan Emergency, the Six Day War, the Aden Emergency, the “Troubles”, the Falklands War, the Gulf War, the Bosnian War, the Kosovo War, the Global War on Terrorism, the War in Afghanistan, the Iraq War and Insurgency and whatever they're gonna call this thing that just happened between Israel and Hamas. It's estimated that, in the 20th century alone, more than 187 million people have died in these various wars (and that's a very conservative estimate). What do you think those people thought about their “end times”?
And that isn't, by any means, all of the wars!
So, yeah … there's a lot of history there that suggests that things will get worse before they get better, and I for one am a firm believer that we have good reason to believe this. There are things happening all around us that have been hidden from us, or that most of us have no clue about. I believe that we will all be affected by the coming events in unpredictable ways in the not-so-distant future.
I'd be happy to share … just not here.
I, myself, have been trying to warn the people around me of certain things for years, and my message has fallen on deaf ears amongst the majority of them. I even have a pastor friend who compares me to Jeremiah, the weeping prophet. He wept because he tried to warn people, but no one listened. A select few have listened to me though and are taking steps to prepare in whatever ways they choose. But, in the end, I know that I will never feel as if I have prepared enough.
But you know what? I don't have to worry.
Remember this one (I hope)?
“'For I know the plans I have for you', declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
Kinda poetical that I used one from Jeremiah here, huh?
Noah, David, Joseph, Rahab, Ruth, Mary, Paul, the list goes on and on, are examples of people throughout the Bible who were required by God to do something about their situations during some really forbidding circumstances. And they did. However, there's nothing that they could have done to help themselves or anyone else without our Heavenly Father. I'll admit to you now that there have been a whole lot of people in the Bible who were saved in tough times only because of their faith in Him. They were obedient and followed leaders who, keeping to their own faith, led them to salvation, guided only by Almighty God.
Here's the bottom line. Yes, these times that we are living through are … weird. People are doing and saying things that make me sad concerning my country, the United States of America, the greatest country to have ever existed. But if my home were to crumble to dust in the next moment, I would take comfort in the fact that God's will has been done. And if it is to survive into the centuries to come, it will only be because it is God's will. Life is full of sacrifice. We are all constantly tested by the calamities that we face. All that matters is how we deal with sometimes-unthinkable tragedies, where we place our hope, and in whom we trust. The worse things appear to be, the better opportunity we have to honor Him. Jesus died on the cross for everyone. He will never abandon us.
Today is the day. Now is the time. The battle is on!
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV)