Words of Comfort and Hope during a time of fear and trouble

Although this article was written shortly after the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the teaching and message applies to any war, conflict or trouble. It is quite a long article but it contains very important Biblical information which will help provide understanding and greatly strengthen faith. For this reason I do urge readers to take time out to go through it carefully and then to share with appropriate others. 

“In all our afflictions God Himself is afflicted”. Isaiah Ch 63v9.

As we look aghast at once again how humans abuse their God given gift of freewill, the gift that means we decide for ourselves what kind of person we are going to be in our attitudes, words and actions, we are reminded of the sobering warning in John Ch 3 v 19 “That light has indeed come into the world, but men love darkness rather than light.”

The invasion of Ukraine causing the greatest crisis in Europe since the end of The Second World War as well as the irrational threat to use nuclear weapons, reminds us of the prophecy in Luke Ch 21v 26 “that men’s hearts will faint for fear and expectation of those troubles coming on the earth”.

All these events have come as a seismic shock to many people, but it most certainly has not come as a shock to everyone. Millions of Christians across the world who accept Bible prophecy have not been taken by surprise and this shows the distinctive difference between those who love and serve the Lord faithfully and diligently, and those who don’t.

This difference can be summarised by the  moving description I came across in the wartime diary of a  Church minister when it appeared as though this Country was about to be invaded. He wrote “There is fear and despair all around; but not among those of us who are walking closely with the Lord.”

So what exactly is it that prevents those “walking closely with the Lord” from being fearful and despairing? For the sake of brevity, I am going to mention just two reasons out of many.

First of all, as they observe murderous chaos, as they see the innocent fall in the street, as they see man’s inhumanity to man; they are comforted by the knowledge that the Lord will redress all these wrongs in eternity. This is not the end of the story for such people who have suffered so much. There is not a pang of pain felt on earth which is not more than shared in heaven, as Isaiah Ch63 v9 reminds us. In the life beyond, at the time of Judgement, anyone who has suffered unjustly, anyone who had their earthly life snuffed out by evil, will be more than compensated in ways only the Lord Himself can do and which will be personal to their own set of circumstances. In Luke Ch 12vs 6-7 we are told that not even a single sparrow is forgotten by God, so how much more a human being, and we are told that “even the very hairs of our head are all numbered.” Luke Ch 21v18 reassures us that because of the precise nature of this judgement, “not a single hair of your head will be lost.” (See also the beautiful promise in Revelation Ch21v4 that “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes ….” And Proverbs Ch23v18 “For certainly there is a hereafter and your hope will not be cut off.”)

And of course, this is exactly what we would expect from God Who is infinitely Holy, Just and Loving. The gift of freewill could only ever be given, if there is to be a future time of accountability and redress which is precisely why Scripture teaches “The fear of the Lord, is the beginning of wisdom.” (Proverbs Ch 9v10). It is often said that if those who carry out atrocities knew what lay before them (unless they repented), then they wouldn’t sleep easy in their beds at night.  “If the righteous are scarcely saved from the judgement to come, what will happen to the wicked and ungodly?” (1st Peter Ch 4v 18). Christians take comfort in the knowledge that God’s character of Holiness, Love, Righteousness and Justice will be totally and utterly vindicated on that Awesome and Fearful Day.

The second reason why Christians have great hope for the future, is of course the ultimate promise of the return of Jesus Christ in order to prevent humanity destroying itself. Bible prophecy clearly states that God will never permit the human race to be destroyed and in the face of mad threats about the use of nuclear weapons, this explains why Christians are able to remain calm. The future of the human race does not lie in the hands of Russia or China; the future of this world will not be decided by a Russian-Sino Alliance or whatever else may happen in the years ahead.

There are numerous prophecies referring to this promise such as in Matthew Ch 24 v 22. In this verse Jesus states that no matter how severe future conflicts may become, “for the sake of the righteous, the days of those conflicts will be shortened so that the world will survive.”

Again, every Christmas when churches conduct The Service of Nine Lessons and Carols, one of the readings comes from Isaiah Ch9 vs 6-7. The first part states “For unto us a Child is borne, unto us a Son is given”.  This refers to the birth of Our Lord in Bethlehem. It then continues with a prophecy, “And the government will be upon His shoulders and His name will be called Wonderful Councillor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace, and of the increase of His government and of peace there will be no end…”  This part is fulfilled at His Second Coming to the world. From then on, the government of the world will rest upon His shoulders. (Isaiah Ch 2v4 further predicts that when He returns, He will judge the nations, armies will be forced to beat their weapons into ploughs and “nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”) The next reading in the service comes from Isaiah Ch11. In verses 6-9 it states that upon His return even the laws of nature will be restored to their original condition before sin had entered the world. “The wolf will dwell with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the young goat…the cow and the bear will graze and the lion will eat straw like an ox.” St Paul referred to this in Romans Ch8vs 19-21 describing how the decay we see in nature, will one day be reversed and nature will be returned to its original perfect condition.

Both the Old and New Testaments are filled with such promises about the Second Coming. There are estimated to be 1,845 references in the Old Testament and of the 260 chapters in the New Testament, there are 318 references to it, making an average of one in every 30 verses.  They describe how His return will restore peace, justice and harmony to the world, as well as put an end to disease and poverty. For Christians the promise of His return is indeed like a light at the end of the tunnel; a light of hope that can never be quenched by the actions of any dictator or any weapon.

And His return won’t just usher in peace, prosperity and restore the laws of nature, it will also bring an end to wickedness, greed and corrupt behaviour. In Revelation Ch 12v 5 we are told that “He will rule the nations of the world with a rod of iron”. The “rod of iron” symbolises strict law and order. No longer will people be afraid of being robbed, attacked, raped, murdered, and kidnapped or whatever. The world will be a perfectly safe place, wherever one might travel.

Immediately upon His return there will be a time of Judgement with everyone being called to account for their attitudes and actions, as it states in 2nd Corinthians Ch5vs9-11, “We make it our aim to be well pleasing to Him, because we must all appear before the Judgement seat of Christ….knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men to repent…”. (See also Hebrews Ch4 vs 12-13, “all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to Whom we must an account”.) It will be at this point that the prophecy in Romans Ch 14v11 and Philippians Ch 2v10 will be fulfilled; “At the Name of Jesus, every knee shall bow”.

Matthew Ch 25 vs 31-46 also vividly describes how people will be gathered before Him and He will separate them one from another, just as a shepherd separates sheep from goats. He will say to the wicked “When I was hungry, you gave Me no food, when I was thirsty, you gave Me no drink, when I was a stranger, and you did not take Me in….And they will say, ‘When did we see You Lord, hungry and thirsty or a stranger?’ And He will answer ‘inasmuch as you didn’t do it to one of the least of these, you didn’t do it to Me.” Notice in this parable that Our Lord so identifies with those who suffered that He states that inasmuch as you didn’t help them, you didn’t help Me.

Matthew Ch 7 vs21-23 states that at this time a clear distinction will be drawn between those who are genuine in their repentance and striving to obey Him, from those who are not. In verse 21 Jesus warns 

Sadly this shows that there will be a vast group of individuals who think they are Christians but who are not.  They may indeed go to church services and even raise their hands in praise, but the reality is that they have never given their heart to the Lord. (Matthew Ch 15v8). He isn’t first their heart or first in their lives, in spite of the great Price paid by Him for their salvation. (1st Corinthians Ch6v20 and Hebrews Ch2v3). They do not obey Him first and foremost. They don’t know Him personally and don’t have a real and living relationship with Him. They have not made Him the Lord of their life and He is not their first love. (Revelation Ch2v4).  Being a Christian means loving the Lord with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength and loving our neighbour as ourselves. (Matthew Ch22vs 37-40) Those who  “talk the talk”, but don’t “walk the walk” will be revealed on that Day and it behoves us all to regularly examine our hearts to make sure that our relationship with the Lord really and truly is the most important thing to us. Let us regularly ask ourselves, how does our heart, mind, attitude and life look, under the intense scrutiny of a Holy God?

These were the questions which challenged Lieutenant General Sir William Dobbie, (who was Governor of Malta during The Second World War), when he was a young man. He wrote, “I realised for the first time that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, had come down to this earth for the express purpose of laying down His life as the atonement for my sin, in order to deliver me from its penalty and power, so that I might go free. Burdened as I was with the guilt of my sin, I realised that this remedy exactly met my need. I then and there accepted Jesus Christ as my Saviour. As time passed I entered more and more into the meaning and implications of this wonderful transaction. This was the turning point in my life.”

Years later, as an old man looking back on his life he added “Vital and uninterrupted contact with our Heavenly Father is the most wonderful thing in the world.” This intimate relationship is the reward which comes by truly putting the Lord first in our hearts. Sadly, there are many who think they know Him, but they are merely deceiving themselves.

Wing-Commander Edward Howell, also experienced this intimate relationship when he gave his heart to the Lord. During The Second World War, he was taken as a prisoner of war by the Germans but his personal life was in such a mess he felt that the real prison he was in, weren’t actually the stone walls around him, but the stone walls within. He had major personal issues and he knew he would never be free until he could deal with those issues and lay them to rest.

He wrote afterwards, “What if God could set me free from being my own prisoner? I decided to try. As I lay there in the darkness and despair of my prison cell, far from home, I gave myself and all I have to God-for better for worse, for richer for poor, in sickness and in health, forever. I entrusted Him with my life, my possessions, my career, my family and my friends. I committed myself to choose what was right, to do and to be, from then on, in so far as I could honestly see it. At that moment of decision, God spoke to me. It was as though by that simple act of will, I had switched on the light in a dark room. I saw the meaning of things for the very first time. With an intense thrill, I perceived ‘God is Love’, and I began to see what that meant for me personally. My heart filled and overflowed. This was home at last, where you loved and were loved beyond all knowing. Nothing could ever separate me from it, so long as I chose to stay there. I was free at last and no walls or sentries could take my freedom from me, so long as I chose God’s way. I found myself praying, a thing I had not done for ten years or more. I was ecstatically happy and tears of joy flowed down my face. I now knew the secret of living.”

Let us not be overly disturbed by world events around us, but let us have faith and trust in the promises and prophecies of Scripture.

Truly, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not be afraid.” Psalm 46v1. “There is fear and despair all around; but not among those of us who are walking closely with the Lord.”