♣ From Fear to Cheer
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling” – Psalm 46:1-3
I THINK WE can all relate to those heart-sinking moments when bad news hits and we feel so dumbstruck in not knowing what to do in those situations. Many of us remember the impact of being pounded in the stomach and the struggle that came with it to catch our breath again. Some circumstances are just like that and oftentimes with many of us, it doesn’t take long for us to go down with the impact.
Fear is very real, even for the Christian; God has not taken away the ability to encounter these emotions, just like He has not removed us from being in the midst of this world; we have to contend with the good and bad. What we do with that fear is another matter and one of the incredible aspects of following Christ is that we are not bound to fear any longer. What Scripture states is a promise to those who are walking with God, “He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord. His heart is steady; he will not be afraid” (Psalm 112:7-8).
“Lift up your heads [which can be translated, cheer up] for your redemption is drawing near”, yet this is so different to what I’ve found taking place on many public forums in regards to the bleak future of America and the ‘coming tribulation’. I read the comments of so many Christians instilling fear rather than cheer in the hearts of others with their various end-time views. Let me be frank, if it was not for the grace of God none of us would persevere until the end; we would all deny Jesus, no matter how pious we may feel. This excessive talk about pre, mid or post-tribulation has the tendency to stir people into panic rather than exhorting others to put their trust in the Lord; it sounds more like self-preservation than living for God’s honour. Concerning the doctrine of Christ’s Second Coming, always let the Lord’s return for His bride be the prevailing perspective – never where all the attention is concentrated in the little details; Revelation is a message to the Church that the Lord Jesus Christ is reigning forevermore (which includes the present age we are inclined to forget) and is sovereign over everything in all of creation (that means over the bad as well as the good); that is the dominant note throughout this book and if we do not perceive that, then we need to seriously revise our views in the light of God.
Oswald Chambers ministered during the First World War and Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones through the Second. Both of them may have differed in their eschatological views, but never did they allow such positions to predominate their teaching when they consoled others in the midst these world catastrophes; they didn’t excessively (wherein comes imbalance) focus on any particular prophecy, attempting to interpret what biblical timeline they fell into with the current events; many had done that, convinced they were right and the ‘compelling’ evidence ‘seemed’ to prove that, but as time passed they were proved utterly wrong.
You will find that when you read Chambers and Lloyd-Jones on these subjects, they always pointed to the reality that all authority belongs to Christ; He is in absolute control; He is bringing about His purposes; our lives are seated with Christ now; nothing in all of creation can shake us or separate us from God. They always preached Christ; they exalted Him, never drawing attention to themselves, but rather, leading others to put their complete trust in the God Who holds our lives in His very hands. The result was total confidence in God (in the very midst of air raid soundings and buildings collapsing around them), boldness amidst the face of evil and a joy inexpressible among the loss and pain. If anyone’s preaching today on these matters does not stir within us, that “in all these things we are more than conquerors”, they have no right being in the pulpit or the platform.
“Lift up your heads” because of the redemption that already is and also to is come – that is exactly what the essence of preaching is to do: to raise our heads (away from self) to God Himself, not to calamity and all that is wrong with the world. Through Christ, we see exactly what is wrong with the world and the problem of sin and how humanity has been ruined (beyond man’s cure) as a result. Humanity’s remedy is only through Christ and His redemptive work. The Bible is emphatically clear on the state of the world; we have already been informed that we will have trouble in it, so it should come as no surprise to us when it does manifest itself in the way that we are witnessing today; we are to anticipate it because all that is not of God will be shaken until all that remains is only of God. “Now when all these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads…” (Luke 21:28). Christ said, “Do not be terrified [do not fear, or panic]” – Pertaining to what? “The distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world” (Luke 21:25-26).
Listen to the Psalmist again in chapter 46:1-2 in comparison to the above verse: “Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way [compare that to our governments, the sense of injustice, unrighteousness and diminishing security], though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea [compare to our collapsing economy, the ‘strength’ of our nations], though its waters roar and foam [compare to the nations at war and not at peace with other nations]…” The psalmist’s knowledge and confidence in God, Who is the very present [or well proved] help in trouble [not before or after it but in it], drove out fear, because while all else would fail around them, God remained their refuge and strength, strength to keep from fainting (being overwhelmed with fear) as they abided and rested under the shadow of His wings.
Paul said that in and amidst such circumstances as tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, sword, death, life, angels, rulers, things present, things to come, powers, to include anything else in all of creation (Romans 8:35-39) – we are not overcome. In fact, in Christ, we surpass being a conqueror. What more can you achieve than being a conqueror?! It would seem that Paul was speaking hyperbolically, but what he conveyed is our indestructible position in Christ. As Christ gloriously triumphed over all the legions of hell on the cross, so we are guaranteed the same power of victory over all that would come against us.
The child of God has nothing whatsoever to fear; it is those of the world who have rejected Christ that have everything to fear. The child of God has been delivered from His coming wrath; men and women of the world (outside of Christ) have yet to face it. Nothing will be more dreadful than this.
Christians, where are our perspectives? Where is our trust and confidence? Where is our boldness “in all of these things” as Paul stated? It is never to be in ourselves but in God alone and until it is, we will never know what it is to be more than conquerors in the midst of abounding evil, but where evil has abounded, God’s kingdom shall manifestly reign supreme. Evil is no match for the kingdom of God and the devil knows that his kingdom draws nearer to a complete and fearful end.
Yes, we may have our doubts; we may at times be filled with fear; we may at times be caught unawares and become so overwhelmed that paralyses us from knowing what to do, but this shouldn’t be. God remembers that we are dust and in His mercy and compassion will use such circumstances to drive us to Him. We are not to carry on being weighed down with care and worry, wondering what we are to do and what will become of us. Instead, we should cry out, “Lord my heart is faint and overwhelmed. Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I” and it is there we shall know the joy of the Lord proving to be our strength in and every situation.
Posted on October 9, 2013, in ♣ Devotional and tagged abounding evil, boldness, Christ's second coming, collapsing economy, confidence in God, devotional, diminishing security, distress of nations, doubts, dumbstruck, emotions, fear, From Fear to Cheer, God our refuge, joy inexpressible, Luke 21:25-26, Luke 21:28, Mark Anthony Williams, nations at war, panic, perspective, Psalm 112:7-8, Psalm 46:1-3, Romans 8:35-39, seated with Christ, self-preservation, shadow of His wings, steady heart, unrighteousness. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.