When we look at the prophecies Jesus gave in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21, we read that the last days will be times when “men’s hearts fail them for fear.” Shortly after He spoke these words, Jesus took the disciples aside and gave them the long farewell address recorded in John 14-16. It begins with this instruction: “Let not your hear be troubled: believe in God, and believe also in Me.”
The prophecies of scripture can be scary, and add to this some of the disaster prophecies that come forth today. Can we learn to live in such a season with untroubled hearts? Can we develop the kind of faith that will carry us through troubled times?
Last summer, a word about a devastating earthquake started circulating on the west coast. I heard of people who frantically tried to get out of town and of children who cried themselves to sleep because of fear. Some have argued that these reactions prove that the word was wrong, because it brought forth bad fruit.
I disagree. There are plenty of disaster prophecies in scripture that are every bit as upsetting as anything today’s prophets proclaim. Ours is not a head-in-the-sand faith that can’t look trouble in the eye.
I have reared a son, and the Bible made it clear that part of my job as a father was to train my son in the ways of God. Sometimes I needed to speak into his fears when he come face-to-face with some of the warnings in scripture. I’m going to share a few principles here that I’m sure I shared with him.
1. When you’re afraid, tell God all about it and let Him speak back to you. He wants to pour His power into our weakness. Our part in the process is to bring our weakness to Him, not to wallow in it but to exchange it for His power. We have to be willing to choose to trust what He tells us.
2. Keep coming to Him with your fears until fear is no longer an issue. It isn’t often a one-shot-deal, with five minutes of prayer setting you free from all fears forever. But it’s like medicine: keep taking the pills until the problem goes away.
3. God will use today’s troubles to prepare you for the uncertainties of tomorrow. “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.” (Psalm 34:19) Everyone has troubles. Take them to God day by day and watch how He intervenes in them.
In some cases He simply answers prayer and changes your circumstances; at other times He changes you first. Sometimes He answers immediately and sometimes we have to persist in prayer.
Over time, we begin to learn the ways of God and we become comfortable with them. We find Him faithful and trustworthy. Our faith grows.
4. Take time to collect testimonies. Look back at the times when God has protected you, provided for you, helped you, and saved you from the worst in yourself in the past year. Remembering the good things God has done for you in the past will help your faith grow; and where faith is strong, fear can’t work.
5. Remember that Jesus lives in you. If you’ve asked Him to come into your heart, He’s there – and He is not afraid. He not only has perfect trust towards the Father, but He also has an ear to hear His voice. Christ in you is the ear to hear the directions of the Holy Spirit that will steer you out of trouble and into abundant life.
6. Courage grows. Keep walking with Jesus. Be open with Him – you never have to pretend. Believe His promises. Be patient with yourself. Without realizing how it happened, one day you’ll notice that shakings can happen all around you, but they don’t shake you at all.