“You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end.” Jesus

Matthew 24: 6

This is the story that surrounds us on a daily basis; for, across the world there is conflict, violence, and hatred being played out. Some of it impacts us very personally as very few people do not know someone or know of someone who is directly involved in a war ravaged part of the world. Also, there are wars raging right in our neighborhoods, in our government, schools, and churches; also, there is strife and conflict aggressively dividing many of our own homes. Jesus went on during this conversation to warn about natural disaster, too; He said, “there will be famines and earthquakes.” Essentially we are living in a time when the glue that has been holding our world together is being overcome by the building up of evil forces. This is the hurricane season; we all live in the center of Tornado Alley; and the root cellar that we have always planned to enter when they strike just may not be deep enough to handle the forces that will be unleashed.

Yet, in the middle of these words of stern warning, Jesus says something that is, to me, so typically of Him, a seemingly ridiculous piece of advice, for He says, “see to it that you are not frightened”. Is that not crazy? I live in a world where bullets are flying, people plant bombs in cars in public places, other people who appear to be completely normal commit atrocious acts, earthquake after earthquake brings devastation and death, tornadoes and floods have become the small time items in the news, and mean and oppressive behavior fills our city streets. Thus, is fear not the rational emotion to feel? Again, Jesus says that this is not true, for we are living in a world where the violence and the turmoil are all a part of a much bigger plan, of a Divine plan, that leads to the cleansing and to the restoration of this world.

Jesus wants us to join Him in the working out of the plan. We can choose to become focused on the terrifying events, and we can think in terms of how out of control everything seems to be; thus, we can get caught up in the sort of thinking that leads to a sense of doom, a feeling of helplessness, and that makes us fearful; or, we can look for the hand of God which is actively working to meet the needs of people whose lives have been disrupted by these events, and we can seek to follow Him by reaching out to meet those same needs ourselves. Jesus calls to each of us to take action in this world so that we will not be caught up in fearful thinking, but rather, we will become agents for spreading the word that there is one and only one safe place to go when the storm strikes, and that place is straight into the arms of Jesus.