Spend five minutes reading the newspaper or an online news source and you could easily become fearful about the future of our world and your own future. Unemployment is up, random killings happen left and right, cancer and heart disease remain a deadly spectre for many in spite of billions spent on research, and natural disasters seem to occur more and more often in catastrophic proportions. Yes, fear is the typical human response to the current state of our world.
But there is another response that is better than the typical human response. It is the response that Christians are called to have in the face of potential tragedy and loss. Dr. Henry Blackaby, a Baptist minister and Christian author wrote:
Christians ought not to be smothered in fear. There is a spiritual readiness, where we return to having the peace of God stand guard over our hearts and minds. What an incredible witness it is to a lost and fearful society when the Christian acts like a child of God, living under the loving sovereignty of the Heavenly Father. The Christian needs to walk in peace, so no matter what happens they will be able to bear witness to a watching world.
To walk in peace. What an awesome concept! The Christian should let peace reign in his or her heart even in the face of adversity. Yesterday, I was reading Paul’s second letter to the church at Corinth, and was encouraged by the joy and peace that Paul and his companions maintained in spite of their dire circumstances. I was reading the New Living Translation and liked the way this passage was worded in that translation:
You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.
We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.
We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.
Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies. So we live in the face of death, but this has resulted in eternal life for you.
But we continue to preach because we have the same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said, “I believed in God, so I spoke.” We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus, will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself together with you. All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.
That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. 2 Corinthians 4:5-18.
One thing I like about this passage is that Paul quotes from my favorite Psalm 116 when he said, “I believed in God, so I spoke.” This is a Psalm that reminds me of the trials I have been through and survived by the grace of God. It reminds me of the tears and pain that left me feeling lost and hopeless, and of how God healed me. Because I have memories of what He has brought me through so far, I know the peace and light that will see me through the trials that are sure to come. This is a peace that transcends human understanding. It is a peace that only the heart can fathom, and that my heart must share with the hurting world around me.
Paul faced as much difficulty as we do today, maybe even more than the average person really faces, but he did not fear. He held fast to the peace and light of Jesus Christ to withstand the many trials life put in his path. And today he is seeing that which we cannot yet see. Someday I will see, too. But for now, I hold fast to the peace and light of Jesus Christ.
Are you living in fear because of the evils and trials of this world? You don’t have to let fear paralyze you and keep you from living a full and abundant life. You can know His peace and light. It won’t always keep the trials from coming your way, but He will take you through them to ultimate victory with a peaceful heart.