In the middle of last night I found myself tossing and praying.
*I'd watched people carrying boxes "everything that was theirs in their office" - 5000 of them - carrying the box of their stuff. Suddenly out of work. They had been part of an esteemed team of financial professionals on Wall Street - but now the company they had counted on was going bankrupt.
*I'd seen the shots from helicopter of the miles of devastation in Galveston, and Houston and so many coastal and inland areas in Texas and Louisiana....acres and acres of rubble and bare foundations. How many people will be looking simply for a good drink of water today?
*I'd read the article about the Russian long-range planes now flying into NATO territory - and leaders of the world wondering what this new bristling and power really means.
*The reports from the Middle East of bombs and bloodshed...and radical Islam.
Nations and people - in crisis.
And this morning I reached again for the Bible asking for truth to fashion my heart.
Here is what I found.
1. Don't Panic: Jesus, when talking about the calamities that will come at the end of earth-time (See Matthew 24, Luke 21, Mark 13) - said, the first response should be not to panic or get swallowed up in fear. Calamities are part of the climax of the ages. Difficulties will increase as a sign of reaching the very end of time. Allowing fear to become the emotional focus can cause a freeze-up...and a draining out of faith. A preoccupation with things beyond our ability to control.
2. Remember Who is in control: I found the Bible reminding me that Jesus is truly in charge of history and time. He is Lord of everything. He is not ever taken by surprise...though those who follow Him were often "amazed." He does not ever need to draft an emergency plan. As a great lady, who lived through persecution and the Nazi regime, often reminded her audiences: "There's no panic in heaven."
3. Pray: *for leaders who must make hard decisions in these times, *for people who are in a chaotic situation to turn most of all to God for His help, and *for ourselves to maintain the course with a heart of love and obedience to God.
4. Listen and do - take time not just to listen to the news -over and over and over and...see #1 above - :) - but to listen to the Spirit of God. Ask Him: "Is there anything You want me to do?" Then wait to hear. And when you hear, obey. Do the next right thing - no matter how seemingly insignificant - in the right direction.
Finally, some of Jesus' direct words:
"Watch out for doomsday deceivers.
When you hear of wars and rumored wars, keep your head and don't panic. This is routine history and no sign of the end.
There will be famines.
The Message has to be preached all across the world.
...And then (you'll) see the Son of Man (Jesus) enter in grand style, his Arrival filing the sky - no one will miss it! He'll dispatch the angels; they will pull in the chosen from the four winds, from pole to pole.
So keep a sharp lookout.
Stay at your post, watching.
The words of Jesus...selected from Luke 13 - The Message.
The evening news: may it be a call to prayer, not a call to fear.
May it summons us to appropriate action, not circling anxiety.
May it cause us to look with expectation to the return of Jesus.