Wherever we see people subjugating other people, evil is at work. Man has orchestrated and perpetuated this practice throughout time to achieve his selfish and prideful goals: dominance of one nation over another through war, dominance of one people over another through slavery, dominance of one thought over another through cancel culture. The atrocities and persecutions of man against man are indeed horrific and terrifying. So, we see the status of current affairs marking the times in which we live. “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars . . .” Jesus’ words in Matthew 24:6, describing the last days. Living through these things now is bad enough, but if we take Jesus at His word in Mark 13:17-19, it will get worse. “How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 18 Pray that this will not take place in winter, 19 because those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now—and never to be equaled again.”
To put this into perspective, nothing that has happened to this point in history is as bad as it is going to get – not Noah’s world-wide flood, not world wars and holocausts, not global pestilences and pandemics. We cannot even imagine what Jesus is talking about apart from some kind of global nuclear war. (And because we’ve thought of that, it probably won’t happen that way.) Yet, how do we live in critical and senseless times?
Jesus set the example in the night hours before His crucifixion. “Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 36 ‘Abba,Father,’ he said, ‘everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.’“ (Mark 14:35-36) Facing the most horrible death imaginable by carrying the weight of all sin for all time, where it looked like Satan was winning by killing the son of God, Jesus knew God had a different plan. In spite of personal torture, He was willing to accept God’s will. Therefore, Jesus was even able to instruct Peter, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.” (v.38a) The lesson for Peter and the rest of us is that constant vigil while asking the Lord how to pray, keeps us in the safest place of being in agreement with the heart of God. Then, whatever actions we are to take are directed by Him, rather than by our emotions or our good ideas.
Regardless of how alarming things look, we can know that the words of Solomon in Proverbs 10:29 are true. “The way of the Lord is a refuge for the righteous, but it is ruin for those who do evil.” Because Paul knew how to abide in Christ, he was able to say, “If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” (Romans 14:8) A number of Christ-followers in the Ukraine are taking this position. Like them, let us endeavor to make Jesus our hiding place. “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’” (Psalm 91:1-2) In these troubled times, putting our trust in Him is really the only thing that makes sense.