The Noose Is Tightening
Recently, our country and the world has been rocked by the news of children in Iraq being beheaded and placed in public as trophies and warnings for Christians who refuse to convert to Islam. There have been conflicting reports on whether this is accurate. CNN reports one thing and the Gospel Coalition another. What is agreed is Christians ARE being persecuted.
But let's assume for the sake of my point, this story IS true. It's heart wrenching, infuriating, terrifying, and unnerving. I have to be honest, as a Christian myself it disturbed me hearing it first reported. Not just because of the horrific act that is being done to children and the absolute disregard for human life, but as a Christian and I’m sure I’m not the only one who had the thought cross their mind, “Are our children next? Am I next?”
It’s unsettling, isn’t it? The thought of our families and ourselves being held at gunpoint or knifepoint, murdered in the name of our faith. We live in a ‘cushy’ country where we constantly shake our heads at horrible news and say “Tsk, that’s too bad” and go about our day.
But this felt different somehow. Many times we think evil deep down has a heart and for the sake of innocent life, will spare children at the very least. But not this time. This would have been about sheer hatred for the sake of the mention of the name Jesus.
Matthew 24:9-10 tells us, “Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers. And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other…”
Yeah, but this was different. I mean, Jesus was meaning adults, not children. But sadly, evil has no soft side, no conscience, and no boundaries as to how far it goes. And not only were children involved in this, but many women were raped and killed, men beaten and murdered, all in the name of Christ. The world’s noose is tightening around our necks.
But what’s really driving many of our unsettled spirits is our continual, ever-present, daily enemy…the unknown.
What if my kids were killed? Would I really be able to lay my life on the line with a sword at my throat? Are we in the end times? What’s going to happen next? Is it all worth this horror?
If you were to go into the doctor with your best friend, spouse, or family member because they were spitting up blood, most likely you’d be sitting there terrified as you watch your loved one writhing in pain. You have no idea what’s going on, how to fix it, or what to do. You feel what we all feel so many times… helpless.
But the doctor comes in and what do they do? While we are freaking out, asking 50,000 questions, the doctor rarely addresses them all at first. They instead, come in, calm, checking them out, asking questions, checking vitals, assessing the situation. They don’t always know what’s wrong or why our loved one is in so much pain or what’s causing the problem, but usually, they are what we are not… calm.
So why are they so calm? This could be serious, shouldn’t they be more panicked? No, they shouldn’t be and you know why? Not only to help calm us down and reassure us, it’s because while they don’t always know what’s causing the problem, they do have knowledge and expertise to know how to assess the situation. The unknown still exists, but because of their knowledge, they have the confidence to face it with certainty regardless of what’s on the other side.
The unknown is at its most dangerous when confidence can no longer combat it. That doesn’t mean simply having confidence conquers the unknown, but it can help lead to victory, both in day-to-day battles or life-long wars within.
Luke 21:9 says, “When you hear of wars and uprisings, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.”
We hear people constantly saying, “We’re in the end times!” Are we? Possibly. Everyone is trying to fight the unknown with answers, when answers aren’t available, nor will they be. For instance, people are trying to guess the end of the world, but Jesus doesn’t even know that time, the Bible says. People are second-guessing whether there’s a God and taking the “If I can’t see it, it can’t see me” approach, but the unknown still exists whether you want to believe in God or not.
The noose is tightening. We have no idea how or what to pray for these families being persecuted and killed, the children, the believers risking their lives every day for being a Christian. We don’t know what to do or where to turn. We are living in a time like no other. There’s no template or guide on what to do next when such horrors occur and where nightmares have become reality for many.
Sometimes there are no answers available. Sometimes we may never know what to do or how to process fully. We can pray, but sometimes it feels hollow and empty because it feels like we have no direction on how to pray and all our prayers start and end the same way, just spoken differently, but translated the same.
I feel, like a doctor, we may not always know the issue and we may not always get the outcome we had hoped for, but because we had the confidence and the knowledge of the situation, we are unafraid to fight it or at least understand it.
What if we had the knowledge and confidence of God within us? What if we were in his word daily, letting it teach, mend, and heal our souls? If we feel there is a supernatural war consuming us, wouldn’t we want to seek the knowledge of the supernatural to guide us?
Shouldn’t we be hiding the word of God in our hearts so that we can face the horrors of this world with confidence, focus, intensity, and grace needed to combat what the Bible has warned us about? It doesn’t mean we will be calloused, numb, or unresponsive and that these acts or events won’t cut us to the bone, but it will allow us the power to assess the situation and lead the way for those who have lost all hope in a hopeless situation.
We won’t –and don’t- have all the answers, but scripture tells us that even in these trials and hatred and horror, the Good News of the Kingdom will be preached and then the end, the relief of the pains of this world, will come.
The noose is tightening, but Jesus says the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. Like a good doctor, you may not know all the answers, but you can read the symptoms, warning signs, and in good times and bad, preach the word of God and prepare his people.
Your fear is rooted in the abyss of the unknown. You can let it envelope you or fight back. Those who desire to shed light upon it will lead the way with the truth only God can secure in our hearts.
Your faith is only as strong as the foundation it’s laid upon.