Distress

Be Watchful: We live in volatile times. A global pandemic has brought the world to a halt. Political unrest grips our nation every week and step by step there is a steady attack on Christian tenets. The rate at which the global changes have occurred should make everyone realize that no matter how secure life may look or feel, in a moment, it can all be turned upside down. God doesn’t want us to be unaware that times like this will come and he warns us to be ready. “Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap; for it will come upon all those who dwell on the face of all the earth. But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”Luke 21:34–36. If we do not heed these warnings, and only go about life as if nothing has changed, we are walking into a trap. We do not need to live in fear, but we must realize that what is occurring is nothing new under the sun. It has happened in the past and it will happen in the future, so we must be ready. Faithful followers of Christ will take heed of these changes and ready themselves by focusing on the eternal things.

Witness: On our travels over the past 22-years, we have time and time again documented some of the most tragic and horrible events in human history. We have always felt strongly these stories must be told. They are periods in history that warn us that life is fragile and that this world is susceptible to great evil. We have been in Darfur during the genocide, we have seen the aftermath of Rwanda and Srebrenica, walked the death camps of Treblinka and Auschwitz, been in two major earthquakes, ventured into radioactively contaminated zones, been through wars, and have seen the raw nature of humanity. We do not come from a position of being alarmists that have no scope or experience, but we have witnessed many of these things with our own eyes and documented historical events in great detail. In seeing all of this, there is deep respect we carry that events like these can happen anywhere and come upon nations suddenly. Moreover, God does not want us unaware and caught off guard when they do occur. The Bible is filled with warnings that such times will come, even to the end of days. This is why we are always told to be diligent and never forget the coming of the Lord. “For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober. For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night. But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him.”1 Thessalonians 5:2–9. Being prepared is also not in reference to building a bunker or having a go-bag to run for the hills, but rather, it is in reference to your standing with God. How will it be for me when the end draws near? Will my works on earth reflect earthly treasures or heavenly ones? These are the questions a wise person asks themselves. Never forget, we will all stand before the Lord and give account for our lives.

Distress and Revival: With great distress, there can come great times of revival. In the early church, Christians were hunted down and killed, yet the number of believers grew exponentially. The Great Awakening was a revival that impacted the English colonies in America during the 1730s and 1740s. The movement came at a time when the idea of secular rationalism was being emphasized. The Reformation started because the ruling catholic church subverted and abused the scriptures for its own gain. Over and over, in times of great distress throughout history, many seek God fervently. This can be both large scale revivals or individual situations. King David often intimately sought God and cried out to Him in his distress. “In my distress I called upon the LORD, And cried to my God for help; He heard my voice out of His temple, And my cry for help before Him came into His ears.”Psalm 18:6. In WWII, soldiers had a term called “foxholy” in reference to becoming suddenly religious when things got rough in a firefight. Many alcoholics and drug addicts become born-again Christians in recovery as they realize they can only endure with the help of God. Distress, as hard as it can be, often leads to incredible moves of the Holy Spirit. This is why we have hope amidst the distressing times we find ourselves in. The world has come from a time of great excess and now entered into a time of great chaos and peril. How will the church respond? Will we look to go back to the way life was or will we stand up and be a vessel of light to the nations? May we press on and be bold in Him, may we be watchful and expedient with our days, and may we be a generation that shines light in the darkness. “Arise, shine; for your light has come, the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. “For behold, darkness will cover the earth And deep darkness the peoples; But the LORD will rise upon you And His glory will appear upon you. ‘Nations will come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising.’”Isaiah 60:1–3.

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