As Christians we live in momentous times. Everything around us is being shaken – politics, the economy, health, churches, and believers all around, are crumbling. Anyone who is a true believer living in 2020 is affected and if you are not, then you are living on another planet.
I have never seen a time like this. It is not only the Corona virus and the many side-effects of this plague that is shaking us, but believers are facing unprecedented struggles in their own lives. Good families are at loggerheads, once good and solid churches are falling apart, and spiritual leaders that have been respected for decades are revealing their true carnal (even unregenerate) natures and previously hidden heresies. Many, maybe most, solid pastors feel like throwing in the towel as the stresses of ministry and the loneliness of the narrow way have just become too much. Churches and leaders are not only defecting from the true faith but are becoming enemies of the Gospel, siding with the world against the true church, and it would seem that the church is done for. It is highly unlikely that there is a single person reading this, that is not dealing with serious hurt, disappointment and loss and many find their whole world crumbling around them. Anyone who is alive, anywhere in the world, is experiencing unprecedented levels of stress, anger, frustration, discouragement, and even depression.
I do not believe that anyone foresaw this, even a year ago. I have been warning for a couple of years now, that hard times are coming, but I never anticipated this full-on onslaught that is attacking us all from every possible direction. I do believe we are drawing very close to the end, and Jesus is coming for His own very soon.
But here is the bad news: It is not going to get better. I firmly believe that things will get increasingly difficult for true believers. “But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (2Timothy 3:13) and Matthew 24:8 speaks of the beginning of sorrows. The Lord is purifying His church. The hangers-on are being shaken loose and true believers are being purified (Hebrews 12:26; 1Peter 1:7; 1Peter 4:17-18). “And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.” (Matthew 24:12-13).
In this process, many are turning to the arm of flesh, whether it be escapism in the form of entertainment and social media, medication (legal or illicit) to dull the senses and the pain, while others are turning to politicians in the vain hope that they will create a better world and yet others are hoping for help from psychologists. Sadly, others are just giving themselves over to the sloth and indulgence of the flesh. But, none of these provide the answers we need and they will all fail us.
The only answer is in the Lord. But specifically, by keeping our eyes on Him and not on what is going on around us. If you watch the politicians, other Christians, Christian leaders, or the circumstances around you, you will sink into the mire of despondency and discouragement. Lot’s wife failed when she looked back and Peter began to sink, the moment he took his eyes of Jesus and you will do the same. The only way we can keep going is by having our eyes fixed on Him and Him alone.
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
Just as Jesus overcame by having His eyes fixed on the goal, we must overcome by having our eyes fixed on Him. In plain language, we need to get our eyes off social media, the news, conspiracy theories and other people. We need to have our gaze filled with the cross and the Savior.
Isaiah said: “You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.” (Isaiah 26:3). “Whose mind” is not a good translation. The Hebrew word really refers to our entire frame or being. Yes, we need to get our mind on the Lord, but more, our entire being – body, soul and spirit needs to be fixed on God. As the Psalmist says: “My soul longs, yes, even faints For the courts of the LORD; My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.” (Psalms 84:2). Far too many believers have their spirits on the Lord, but their hearts, emotions and desires are on the world around them. You will never overcome the present distress that way.
We need to be stayed on Him. The Hebrew speaks of wholly leaning on, embracing, not moving away from, and fixed on the Lord. Sunday or occasional Christians are not surviving. Only those who are fully, and continually fixed to the Lord, will. The time when you can get by, by going to church from time-to-time and praying for 5 minutes at the end of the day are over. One of the reasons many have fallen away during the various lock-downs is that their entire “walk” with the Lord consists of going to church occasionally. When that is taken away, their “faith” implodes.
Being stayed on Him needs to be translated into action – trusting in the Lord. This means we no longer trust in anything here on earth, in fact we should have lost total confidence in the world and man and realize that there is only One who can be trusted to sustain us and to see us through. The danger is however, that we loose confidence in the arm of flesh but do not put our trust fully in the Lord. That only leads to the total loss of hope. No, we need to stop trusting in man and fully trust in Him. I love the description of the unbelieving king of Assyria: “Look! You are trusting in the staff of this broken reed, Egypt, on which if a man leans, it will go into his hand and pierce it. So is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who trust in him.” (Isaiah 36:6). Even unbelievers know the stuff that they, and many Christians, have their confidence in is worse than useless. They will actually harm, more than help!
However, if we have our entire being fixed and stayed on Jehovah, He will keep us. Paul, coming to the end of his life says: “…I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.” (2Timothy 1:12). He alone can keep. No church, pastor or friend can keep us, but the Lord can, and He will if we are founded on, and committed totally to Him. “Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, On those who hope in His mercy, To deliver their soul from death, And to keep them alive in famine.” (Psalms 33:18-19).
Not only will He keep us, but He will keep us in “perfect peace”. The original says in “shalom, shalom”, peace, peace, thus perfect peace. Yes, he will keep us, but more, He will keep us in peace, and even more, He will keep us in perfect peace. Yes, we can be at peace in the midst of the storm when everything around is is falling down because He is keeping us in peace. We don’t have to work ourselves into a state of peace through some kind of meditative technique. No, we just have to rest fully on Him and He will bring peace. “…the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27)
The following video explores the above thoughts from a slightly different angle: