This is the third in a series of six blogs for the new year in which we consider some challenges we all face as we live out our faith in 2106.
First, we talked about not dragging guilt or shame into the new year, but embracing grace and forgiveness (including to ourselves). We next talked about believing prayer as opposed to living under the cloud of doubt.
This time I want to continue talking about faith, but not as it relates to prayer. Instead, I want us to see faith as a better response than fear to the challenges of 2016 and beyond.
Let’s face it. Most believing Christians are discerning of the times in which we live. We have some idea of what’s coming in the years ahead. We watch the news in amazement that so many people can’t seem to connect the dots with what’s happening and Bible prophecy.
But even as we discern the times, we can be tempted to fear the future. All the more so as we understand that unless revival comes to America, times will get even harder for Christians. More anti-Christian sentiment, more glorification of evil, more laws restricting Christians, more social pressure to conform to this world, more ridiculing of our faith, more violence directed at Christians. That’s a lot to fear…if we’re not walking in faith.
Yes, all these trends can cause us to fear, but needlessly so. In the first place, though we have a pretty good idea of what will happen in the future, we sometimes allow our imaginations to come up with “suppose this happens” or “suppose that happens.” These supposes are usually wrong and only serve to increase our fear of the future. More than a century ago Hannah Whitall Smith, author of the classic The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life wrote:
Our lives are full of supposes. Suppose this should happen, or suppose that should happen; what could we do; how could we bear it? But, if we are living in the high tower of the dwelling place of God, all these supposes will drop out of our lives. We shall be quiet from the fear of evil, for no threatenings of evil can penetrate into the high tower of God.
What are some of the supposes we might fear in 2016? For those of us getting older, health is one area where we can become fearful. Financial health is another area. The rise of Christian persecution in this country—though mild now compared to what our brothers and sisters in foreign lands are going through—-is still, I believe, on the rise.
Despite all this, our secret weapon in the day of trouble—no matter the source of the trouble—is our bold faith. As Hannah Whitall Smith says, “if we are living in the high tower of the dwelling place of God (see Psalm 91), all these supposes will drop out of our lives.”
So the “don’t” here is “Don’t fear the future.”
The “do” is face the future with bold faith. Have faith in God for your health, finances, food, safety, and all else. As Corrie Ten Boom said, “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”
This “do” is for now. Don’t wait until harder times come to live by faith. Be faithful now and you’ll be faithful then.
Here are two powerful Scriptures to claim this year:
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10 ESV).
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7 ESV).
Next up: Dealing with our flesh in 2016. “The flesh is a worse enemy than the devil himself” (Isaac Ambrose (1604-1664).