Do not be overcome by evil

In Matthew Ch24 v12 it warns; “Because wickedness will increase on earth, the love of many will grow cold!”

Nutritionists say that regarding the physical body “you become what you eat” but at the spiritual level there is a similar truth. A person’s character is often shaped for good or evil by the things that they read or see going on around them. A Native American convert could not have put it better. He once told a missionary that every time he was faced with a choice between doing good or evil it was as though two dogs were fighting in his chest, one a white dog and the other an evil black one. When asked which dog won, he replied “which ever dog I have been feeding the most.” If a person regularly feeds their mind with horror stories, pornography and violence they needn’t be surprised if they begin to sink to that level in their thoughts and behaviour. On the other hand if an individual fills their mind with good and wholesome material they will generally find that they aspire to be good, kind and loving.

Jesus predicted that an age would come when there would be so much wickedness and immorality in the world that it would cause many people to “grow cold” in character. They would be unduly influenced by the evil things going on around them and as a result they would become bitter and selfish in their outlook on life. Their philosophy of life would be “me first,” “look after number one” or “I’m alright Jack”.

If an individual is to prevent themselves from being unduly influenced by accounts of violence and immorality it is vitally important that they regularly “feed their minds” with good and inspiring things. They need to constantly remind themselves that “good things” still do happen and that God is still very much at work in the world, (even when few seem to be listening to Him). Over the years I have collected numerous stories of Divine Intervention which make uplifting and inspiring reading. As a reminder that far from being remote and distant, God is present in the midst of our troubles, here are two stories to encourage the spirit.

The first example I have chosen happened several years ago to The Rev Dr Victor Pearce when he was a minister in the Church of England. He explained that one day he was walking along a road in Peckham, London when he sensed the Lord guide him to leave the road and go down a particular side street. “I continued down the road for about 100 yards when I then sensed the Lord telling me to stop and look across at the other side. Across from me, I saw one of the terraced houses had an old heavy panelled wooden door with a cast-iron knocker in the middle.” Feeling that he was to visit this house Dr Pearce knocked on the door. “The door was opened by a slightly built woman of average height. She looked at me, saw my dog collar and immediately burst into tears. ‘Thank God you’ve come’ she cried, ‘my husband’s in hospital dying of cancer and he said “send for a minister, I’m not ready to die”. ‘He kept on urging me and pleading but we don’t know any minister. I didn’t know what to do so I came home and prayed “Oh God please help”, and He has sent you.’”

“I quickly went to the hospital…his face lit up when he saw me. ‘I’m not ready to die’ he pleaded. I told him about the thief hanging on the cross next to Jesus and how he turned to Jesus for help and forgiveness at the last minute. I explained that Jesus had said to the man ‘today you will be with Me in paradise.’ I continued ‘So you see, that man was forgiven and promised eternal life even though he turned to Jesus only at the last moment.’ I encouraged his faith further when I revealed the miraculous way in which God had sent me to him and it proved Jesus was seeking him. You should have seen the peace which came over the man’s face as he responded. At his funeral later, this story was told to those present, and many were moved to tears as they were urged not to leave things to the last minute but to enjoy salvation now.”

The second story of Divine Intervention which I have chosen occurred during the Second World War. A young Dutch woman was captured by the Japanese when they invaded Java and was imprisoned in Bandung. After a number of days she was then put into a cattle truck with other prisoners and at the end of a journey lasting 36 hours she arrived at a concentration camp. The place was horrific and she fell into a state of deep despair.

One night she had to go to the toilet. The camp latrines were no more than a plank over a deep cesspit. In the pitch dark she felt her way to the latrines but she misjudged where she was, lost her balance and fell into the cesspit. In her utter despair she decided to give up and drown. She felt her miserable life was no longer worth living.

Suddenly she clearly heard a voice in her ear, which asked her “Do you believe in God?” She sensed straight away that this was no human voice but something coming from the supernatural. She answered quietly to herself “Yes”. The voice then admonished her and warned her that she did not have the right, not to do her best, to get out of the pit. The voice added “You cannot simply drown. You should not think that death will be a solution in this way, for those things you cannot face in this world, where it is your duty to deal with them, will confront you again, and then in a situation which is much more difficult.”

She was shocked by this statement and called out “Do you call this a life? This is terrible!” In stead of a verbal response to this cry she suddenly experienced an overwhelming feeling of God’s Holiness and power. The feeling was so powerful that she lost her sense of despair. She grabbed the side of the cesspit to see if she could climb out, but it was so covered in slime she couldn’t get a grip. Then she tried to find the bottom with her feet, but there was no bottom, only more and more slime. The stench was overwhelming.

She realised that she couldn’t get out and once again she was filled with despair. In her heart she prayed “Oh Lord help me. I do want to get out but I cannot.” At the same time she was gradually sinking deeper and deeper.

Suddenly she felt what seemed to be the finger of a hand under each elbow and in her mind’s eye she saw two large angels standing behind her. She felt herself being lifted from the cesspit and then laid on the ground. When she had gathered her thoughts she started weeping and went back to the barracks where other prisoners cleaned her up.

This incident dramatically changed her life and ultimately resulted in her becoming a devout Christian. As her spiritual life developed over the years she eventually became a leader in the underground Church behind the Iron Curtain and helped numerous Christians who were being persecuted for their faith by the KGB.

God is still very much at work in this troubled world; indeed He is right in the midst of our problems. Let us constantly remind ourselves of this truth because by so doing it will help protect us from becoming cold and bitter in spirit. In Psalm 37 vs7-10 it says; “Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him. Do not fret because of those who bring evil schemes to pass…for evil-doers will be cut off. Yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more.” The wicked and immoral may laugh now and seem to have their way, but let us not be unduly influenced by their behaviour, because ultimately, the Lord has promised the world to the righteous and nothing will stand in His way.