I can think of no other time during my 29 years on this planet when fear has been more rampant than it is today. It seem as though every week – every day – we’re seeing more and more headlines reporting terrorist attacks, senseless shootings, natural disasters, and rumors of fatal viruses and economic collapse. As Christians, this exponential increase of fear and uncertainty should come as no surprise, for Jesus told us plainly:
“You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.
“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” – Matthew 24:6-10, NIV
I think it would behoove us to go through each of the prophecies listed and see if and how they’re playing out today.
First, wars and rumors of wars
Here are just a few such cases from 2016 alone:
- January 13: North Korea Says Nuclear Test Shows It Could “Wipe Out” U.S.
- February 26: Putin Encircles Turkey in Massive Troop Buildup
- March 18: Disturbing ISIS Video: “We Will Attack America Very Soon”
- March 31: Islamic State is on the Brink of Using Nuclear Weapons, Chilling Report Warns
- April 4: North Korea Claims Attacks on U.S. Will Kill More than 9/11
- May 29: Thousands of Israelis to Simulate Evacuation in Preparation for War
- June 3: Over 40,000 Foreign Militants from 100 Countries Fighting in Syria
Second, nations rising against each other
A cursory glance at this Wikipedia article will give you a snapshot of the magnitude of man’s hell-inspired hatred for one another. According to this article, there are only 11 countries in the world that are free from conflict. And even those countries, says the Institute for Economics and Peace, are “not entirely exempt from other problems that could lend to conflict further down the line.”
Third, famines and earthquakes
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) reported that from 1900 thru 1950, the approximately 330 major earthquakes (6.5+) occurred across the world. However, since 1950, the USGS reports that over 1,000 major earthquakes have occurred throughout the world. That’s an increase of over 300 percent from the 1900-1950 period.
Earthquakes are definitely increasing globally, and they’re also occurring in many places where they haven’t been known to occur. In 2011, for example, two earthquakes occurred in the unlikely places of Colorado and Virginia. In early August of that year, a 5.8-magnitude earthquake struck just four miles southwest of Mineral, Virginia while a 5.7-magnitude earthquake occurred simultaneously near the suburb of Colorado Springs. While neither earthquake was considered a major trembler, the Virginia earthquake was still felt as far away as New York City.
Have famines been on the rise as well? Indeed, they have. During the 19th century, 24 famines occurred globally while that number increased to 40 during the 20th century. During the current century, 20 famines have already occurred in less than 16 years. If that trend keeps up, the world will experience more famines during the 21st century than the two previous centuries combined.
And like earthquakes, famines can be deadly. For example, a terrible famine that occurred in India at the end of the 19th century caused an estimated 6-9 million deaths. A major famine that occurred in the Ukraine during the early 1930s killed an estimated 7-8 million people, while a famine that struck China from 1958-1962 killed an estimated 30-33 million people.
Last but not least… persecution
I could spend a half dozen posts talking about this prophecy and its fulfillment as it relates to America alone. I encourage you to check out this article from Relevant Magazine on the state of persecution our Christian brothers and sisters are facing around the globe.
As for persecution here in the United States, The Washington Times reported about a poll which found that in just two years, the number of Americans who think Christians are facing growing intolerance in the U.S. has drastically increased.
Sixty-three percent of respondents in the LifeWay research survey said they agree or strongly agree that Christians are facing growing levels of persecution, up from 50 percent in 2013. The majority of that surge comes from respondents who said they “strongly agree” with the statement, a number that increased from 28 percent to 38 percent.
A similar number, 60 percent, said religious liberty is on the decline in America, up from 54 percent in 2013.
Some of you may be asking how sharing any of this alleviates the sense of fear in the world. Don’t alarming stats and disheartening information only tighten fear’s grip on us?
I think many of us – and I am guilty – have a tendency to bury our heads in the sand when we hear the latest negative story on the 6 o’clock news or see a dreary article pop up on our Twitter or Facebook feed. We don’t want to be brought down and depressed or overcome with worry. What can we do about it anyway? Isn’t it best to just go on living our own lives?
As with most things in life, I think a balance needs to be struck when it comes to how we deal with the rising tide of darkness in our world.
Pretending darkness doesn’t exist is not only next to impossible, it also demonstrates our selfishness and susceptibility to fear. Selfishly, we don’t want anything negative occupying a centimeter of headspace in our minds. We don’t want our moods dampened by devastating events happening halfway around the globe. We don’t want to entertain the notion that what’s happening to others yesterday could happen to us tomorrow.
And selfishness smacks of fear. We cover our ears and turn a blind eye in part because we reason, often subconsciously, that the less we know, the less fearful we’ll be. In essence, we’re afraid of becoming afraid.
On the other extreme, there are those – and I have been one of them – whose eyes are ever glued to their Twitter feeds, following all the latest news as info is released in real time. They scour YouTube for conspiratorial content that would have them believe that their octogenarian, cat-loving next-door neighbor is the next Mussolini in disguise and that if they aren’t building a bomb shelter in the backyard, they’re dumb as a post.
These people are also operating out of fear and selfishness. Their fear of what’s to come and preoccupation with what-if scenarios feed their innate survival instincts, which then births an obsessive thirst for more knowledge and as much control as possible.
Their number-one objective is survival, which is undeniably selfish, yet not altogether sinful. God gave us fight-or-flight instincts for a reason, but they weren’t intended to be activated 24/7. When this sort of person is always in “fight” mode, they dehumanize themselves by disassociating from others, growing more suspicious and paranoid of those around them, and unconcerned for the plight and suffering of their fellow man.
So what’s the answer? How do we find a balance between these two extremes of fear-based, voluntary ignorance on the one hand and fear-based, voluntary obsession on the other?
The answer, I believe, can be summed up in this verse:
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” -1 Corinthians 13:13, NIV
Faith, the Bible says, is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen (Hebrews 11:1). Faith is knowing, without seeing, that Jesus is the Savior of the world and the coming King, and that His Word is true and eternal. Faith assures us that what we hope for, namely a real home called Heaven and a good and perfect God who dwells there, is as real as the air we’re breathing.
Hope, according to Romans 12:12, provides us joy in any situation. It generates love and faith (Colossians 1:4-5). It inspires us to live like Jesus (1 John 3:3). It motivates us to persevere through trials (1 Thessalonians 1:3). It uplifts us and prompts praise in our souls toward God (Psalm 43:5; Psalm 71:14).
Hope inspires us to take action with boldness (2 Corinthians 3:12). It develops our patience and establishes a sense of security despite the threats which swirl around us (Romans 8:25; Job 11:18).
“You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety” Job 11:18, NIV
Perfect love, a love which flows from the Lord, casts out fear (1 John 4:18). First John 4:18 says “there is no fear in love.”
When we focus on God’s love for us, how He gave His Son to take our place of judgment and cleanse us of our unrighteousness and how He’ll never leave us nor forsake us, there will be no room for fear to take up residence in our hearts and minds (1 John 1:9; Hebrews 13:5). We remember that if God is on our side, what can man do to us? (Hebrews 13:5-6). Our enemies may kill our bodies, but our spirits and souls will be with Jesus and the saints for all eternity.
Faith, hope, and love. Three simple, yet powerful words should be constant companions and living bread to our souls each and every day. I encourage you to spend some time meditating on them today. Ask the Lord to show you places in Scripture where they are exemplified and what you can learn from them.
In a world so full of corruption, perversion, deception and wickedness, we must fight to remain people from whom darkness flees. People around whom demons tremble. People to whom others can come for comfort and strength. People to whom Jesus will one day say, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23).
I pray this post has been an encouragement to you. As always, please feel free to leave a comment below or tweet me at @dandersontyler. I would love to hear from you.
 For an exhaustive list, please visit http://www.understandthetimes.org/topics/warsrumors.shtml (accessed July 17, 2016)
 http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/2011/aug/23/60-earthquake-rattles-virginia-area/ (accessed July 17, 2016)
 http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/apr/5/christians-facing-increased-persecution-america-po/ (accessed July 17, 2016)