When my children were younger, much younger, I used to read them a cute little story called “Chicken Little”. I’m sure you’ve seen variations of this book, sometimes also called “The Sky is Falling”. It was the story of a chicken called Henny Penny, that was out in the woods, foraging for food, when an acorn fell on her head. She came to the conclusion that the sky was falling and went about telling everyone. Pretty soon everyone in the barnyard was frightened by her warning and joined her in telling the king. Because we all knew that it was just an acorn and not the actual sky, my children thought the book was very funny and couldn’t get enough of it.
The other day I was watching a sermon on YouTube, titled, “How close is the rapture?” I was drawn to watching the sermon because so many of the things that are happening in the world right now, are converging towards the rapture of the church. What is the rapture of the church? Briefly, the Bible tells us that at the time of the end, right before God’s wrath is poured out on an unbelieving and rebellious world, He will rapture, or snatch away, those that belong to Him. 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 is just one of many verses in the Bible that talks about this glorious event for those who have repented of their sins and made Jesus Christ their Lord and Savior.
I have to confess that as I watched this sermon unfold, I was overcome by fear. Not because the pastor was making things up, or jumping to conclusions as Henny Penny did in her little barnyard, but because his fear, like her’s, was palpable. He admitted to his congregation that he was very, very afraid. I spent the next two nights struggling to sleep peacefully, something I usually have no issues with. It took me several days before I realized why. As I thought about my fear, and how quickly I was affected by this pastor’s fears, I realized that with everything going on in the world, it would be odd to not be adversely affected. Unfortunately, in his attempt to comfort his church, and to educate them about Bible prophecy, he had in effect fallen into the same trap that Henny Penny did. He was spreading his fears to others.
The Bible however tells us not to be afraid. There are literally hundreds of verses in both the Old and New Testament admonishing us not to be afraid, but to trust that the Lord is with us. So how do we reconcile what is happening around us, fearful things without a doubt, and these words: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me”? (Psalm 23:4) Or how about these words of Paul in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind”?
As a matter of fact, we are told repeatedly that the ONLY one we should fear, is the Lord. Jesus Himself tells us this in Matthew 10:28, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell”.
So again, I ask, how do we reconcile what is happening around us in our world, and the command to not be afraid?
As I ponder on this question, I am reminded of something that Jesus told His disciples when He was telling them about the signs of His second coming and what would be happening on the earth just before the end. He actually addresses these fears: “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken”. (Luke 21:25-26) However, He then goes on to tell them what to do, when these fears come. He says the following: “Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” (Luke 21:28)
I think that we read the words, “look up and lift up your heads” far too quickly and without giving them any real thought or importance. Is Jesus giving us a nice suggestion here? Maybe He’s telling us to look at the sky, searching the clouds for His return? I’m not making fun here, I’ve done it. But as I ponder on His words, I have to remember that Jesus doesn’t waste words or use words lightly. Every word of the Lord is important. In this passage, He is telling us how we can emotionally and spiritually survive these difficult and frightening days. He’s telling us to stop looking at the things of this world, the things around us, that frighten. He’s telling us to stop looking at the darkness, or the violence, which is growing in leaps and bounds. Does that mean we should put our heads in the sand and pretend it’s not happening? Absolutely not! After all, He just gave them the very signs we should look for so we will understand the season and times we are in. In other words, be awake and aware.
However, in the midst of all the fear, He is telling us that our focus should be on Him. Look up. Lift up your heads. Stop looking down. Stop being afraid.
I remember years ago, when my life was literally falling apart around me. It seemed that everything that could go wrong in my life, other than my own health, was going wrong. It was a time of great darkness for me. I chose to do something that I look back on now and realize prepared me for these terrible days we are facing. Even as I felt the snakes slithering at my feet, and felt myself in a dark cavern, I looked up with my spiritual eyes at His light and chose to trust Him. The Psalmist tells us in Psalm 121:1-2, “I will lift up my eyes to the hills—From whence comes my help? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth”.
In my darkest hours, when nothing made sense, I would say to the Lord, “I don’t understand, but I choose to trust you, because I know you are good and you are in control!” Every time I struggled, which was often, I chose to repeat that to Him. I chose to trust Him.
I am reminded of a very old hymn, made popular again in recent years by Lauren Daigle:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.
Friend, if you are struggling and afraid, you are not alone. Let me encourage you however to remember that Jesus told us He would never leave us nor forsake us. The writer of Hebrews tells us the following: “For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say: “The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5-6)
He is with you. Remember that. As the darkness grows darker, as the evil grows stronger, fear Him who is in control. Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords and He is coming soon for His church!
I will leave you with these words by Saint Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18:
“For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words”.
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