Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. —John 14:27 (NIV)
Watching the evening news these days can be depressing. In fact, it’s getting so bad that some people try to hide themselves from what is going on around them. Recently I’ve heard several people say they no longer watch the news because they just can’t stand hearing about all of the problems in this world. Just look at what’s happening today!
- NASA recently reported its scientists have determined that a massive solar storm in 2012, which narrowly missed making contact with Earth’s atmosphere, had the potential to radically alter life on our planet. A direct hit would have disabled nearly every satellite in orbit and crippled the global electric power grid. According to NASA, we would still be “picking up the pieces” some two years later. The National Academy of Sciences estimated, “the total economic impact could exceed $2 trillion or 20 times greater than the costs of a Hurricane Katrina.”
- Things are heating up in the Ring of Fire region around the Pacific Rim. New volcanic activity and earthquakes are making headlines weekly. With every undersea earthquake comes a tsunami panic. Doomsday prophets warn of a gigantic volcanic eruption that could fill the planet’s entire atmosphere with ash and darken the skies, causing an ice age. Others warn of global warming and climate change, while still others are raising an alarm about global cooling. What is one to make of it all?
- Ukraine and Russia are on the brink of an all out war that could threaten stability throughout Eastern Europe and beyond. A Malaysian airliner was recently shot down by a surface-to-air missile over Ukraine, killing all onboard. Russia and Ukraine blame each other for the mishap. Meanwhile, there is talk of a second Cold War between Russia and NATO.
- The so-called Arab Spring uprisings, which some dreamers believed would bring a new era of peace and freedom to the people of the Middle East and North Africa, has backfired. Egypt, Libya and Syria are on the verge of implosion and total chaos. Terrorist activity in Syria is spilling across the border with Turkey, a NATO member, threatening to drag all of NATO into the fray.
- In Iraq, a hitherto little known group of Sunni Muslim militants called ISIS is conducting a rebellion that has captured large swaths of the country and threatens to collapse the government, reversing all of the gains paid for with American blood and treasure for over a decade. Christians there are increasingly being persecuted by ISIS. The growing abuse of Christians is not unique to Iraq, however. Believers are under fire in Egypt, Sudan, Libya, Syria, Pakistan, India, Vietnam and China just to name a few places. Some would even argue there is an anti-Christian movement afoot here in the United States, where it sometimes seems that Christians are the only unprotected group in our society.
- The Israeli military has moved in force into its semi-autonomous Gaza Strip territory in response to months of rockets fired by Palestinians at Israeli cities. As always, security problems in Israel have the potential to rapidly blossom into larger problems extending beyond her borders.
- China and Japan are rattling their sabers over a territorial dispute involving the Senkaku Islands, an uninhabited chain in the East China Sea. The islands are surrounded by rich fishing waters and have significant natural gas deposits. The current dispute reaches back to World War II. China, Japan and the United States have all controlled the Senkaku Islands at various times in history. The United States, which is heavily in debt to China and bound by treaty to assist in the defense of Japan, finds itself between a rock and a hard place in this argument.
- Speaking of debt, the U.S. economy is in horrible condition as a result of decades of uncontrolled borrowing and spending by federal legislators. Jobless rates across the nation are staggering. People desperately seeking work find themselves frustrated and disillusioned. With a rapidly shrinking middle class, America is quickly becoming a nation of haves and have-nots. There is growing talk of a total economic collapse that could make the Great Depression look like a walk in the park.
News like this has the potential to make anyone depressed. It sometimes appears as if the world is increasingly growing out of control—but it isn’t. It only seems out of control to those suffering from the delusion they can control it. Many politicians and businessmen are constantly planning and scheming, trying to make things go their way. Sometimes it seems as if they’re succeeding, but their victories are only illusions.
In fact, God has been in control all along. He is in control now and always will be. As Hebrews 13:8 reminds us, He is the same “yesterday, today and forever.” The Bible is filled with examples where God snatches victory from what appears to be certain defeat.
- Moses, the adopted child of Pharaoh’s daughter, was chosen by God to lead the Hebrew people from bondage in Egypt.
- As a youth, David the shepherd boy overcame the fearsome Philistine giant Goliath in direct combat, thereby saving the children of Israel from certain defeat.
- While captives in Babylon, the children of Israel were freed and allowed to return to their land by Cyrus the Great, the King of Persia, after his armies conquered Babylon.
- Saul, the greatest persecutor of the Jews in Jesus’ time, was described to Ananias by Jesus as God’s “chosen vessel” (Acts 9). Saul the great persecutor of Christians became history’s greatest evangelist.
- From the ashes of the Holocaust the modern Jewish nation of Israel arose.
- And most significantly, Jesus overcame a brutal death on the cross to rise from the dead as the Savior of all mankind.
Christians needn’t worry when they hear bad news. God has promised, “I will never leave you” (Hebrews 13). When standing in the midst of chaos, remember that He is in control.
My assurance is to be built upon God’s assurance to me. God says, “I will never leave you,” so that then I may boldly say, ’The Lord is my helper; I will not fear’ ” (Hebrews 13:5-6, NIV). In other words, I will not be obsessed with apprehension. This does not mean that I will not be tempted to fear, but I will remember God’s words of assurance. I will be full of courage, like a child who strives to reach the standard his father has set for him. The faith of many people begins to falter when apprehensions enter their thinking, and they forget the meaning of God’s assurance— they forget to take a deep spiritual breath. The only way to remove the fear from our lives is to listen to God’s assurance to us. —Oswald Chambers
“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.” —2 Thessalonians 3:16-17 (NIV)
Twila Paris – God is in Control (Click to listen)