Twenty years and two days ago, I was leaving my community college math class. I was nineteen, not sure where I was heading in life, and was expecting that Tuesday to be like any other Tuesday. As a friend and I walked over to the snack bar, an older gentleman approached us and said, “They just flew a plane into the World Trade Center!”
We walked inside the building and saw the live footage playing on the small, mounted TVs; and, the world froze for a moment.
Those reading this article who are old enough, you surely still remember where you were when you heard the news. Shortly after seeing the footage (and before having a chance to process it), I entered my next class to see my professor’s alarmed face and shaken demeanor. Her husband was an officer in the military, and I am sure her head was spinning wondering what this all meant for her family.
Later that night, I gathered with some church members to pray for our country, then I visited my grandmother and we talked about the tragedy. At the time, I did not realize it; but, that event would profoundly change my life, my peers’ lives, and the entire country. Though I had lived through major world events before, it was the first time I was old enough to grasp how much evil truly flowed through the earth. In retrospect, September 11th, 2001, was a course changer for the world. Most of us will never know the inner details of that horrible day, but the effects have touched us all in one way or another.
Fast-forwarding to present day…. We may not be reeling from one large horrific event, but it appears we keep being knocked down by one “small” wave after another. Just a few years ago, life felt normal. At the time, I might not have described it as such; but, today, I surely do not feel normal. How about you?
Should We Be Afraid?
So many “norms” are no longer norms, and we wake up each day wondering what new, strange, or even evil changes have befallen us. This afternoon I saw a neighbor’s Facebook post and for a moment it snapped me back into my reality as a believer. Should the Lord tarry much longer, I will need to be snapped out of my fear and back into my faith at least a thousand more times. Her post read:
Proverbs 3. Be not afraid. If y’all were in your Bibles like you’re up in the news you’d know not to be worried right now: “Do not be afraid of sudden terror or of the ruin of the wicked, when it comes, for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught.” (Proverbs 3:25-26, ESV)
Though I may talk about the Lord being our strong tower and our salvation, my emotions quickly switch from faith to fear when I spend too much time watching news, political YouTube videos, or endlessly scrolling social media.
Last week, we talked about fighting for your mind’s freedom; and even in the week since that post, I feel like guarding our hearts and minds is even more important. We are likely to face some uncomfortable or downright difficult problems soon, and we need to have our hearts and minds focused on the Lord. He has already won. That is the good news. We may not know what we will have to endure between now and eternity, but we know the ending. God wins. Period. He never promised our walk through this life would be easy, but He did promise never to leave us.
Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. (Proverbs 4:23, ESV)
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. (Isaiah 26:3, ESV)
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5, ESV)
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33, ESV)
And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:20b, ESV)
The World is Changing and We Need to Prepare
If there was ever anyone who resisted change, it is me. Even switching desks at work used to upset me considerably. We have not moved our furniture around in a decade and I continue to buy the same type of clothes even though my friends have branded my predictable wardrobe Heather-wear.
For years, I heard pastors preaching about the end times and I read about it in my Bible, but it seemed so far away, so I chose not to think about it too much. After the horror of the 9/11 attacks, the words on those pages started to feel more real – to me and to many. Since then, we have rapidly experienced more true evil and perversion in this world than we could have imagined twenty years ago.
Even someone like me who wants to watch old Disney movies and ignore the mayhem has to finally take a deep breath and pay attention to what the Bible says. Revelation is not fables or futuristic ideas anymore (not that it ever was) – it may be upon us right now.
Even with all the uncertainty we are experiencing, God’s Word tells us not to fear – well over 300 times, in fact – but it also tells us to be prepared.
The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it. (Proverbs 22:3, ESV)
But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man. (Luke 21:34-36, ESV)
Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. (Matthew 24:9-13, ESV)
Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. (Romans 13:11, ESV)
Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. (Matthew 24:42, ESV)
And God, who also prepares, gives us this glorious mystery to ponder:
But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him” (I Corinthians 2:9, ESV)
In a Nutshell…
As believers, we are not slaves to fear.
We trust in God for our earthly and eternal salvation.
And, we prepare for the days ahead as we are instructed to do.
And, if you’re in that stage of life, mate selection is still part of the preparation process in difficult times.
Choose the Type of Mate You Would Want to be With During Hard Times
What does all this talk about our world, fear, and preparation have to do with my love life? Plenty.
At the moment, dating and love may seem like a portion of your life, tucked away in a neat box next to your college box and your career selection box. But, once you are married, your marital relationship will permeate all the boxes. Your spouse will affect your career, for better or for worse. Your spouse will affect your child rearing, for better or for worse. Your spouse will affect you spiritually, for better or for worse. So, the question is ultimately, what type of person do I want with me in all my boxes – including my seasons of grief box, my fear of the unknown box, and my navigating hard times box?
- Pick someone who will point you back to Scripture when your mind is heavy with the cares of the world.
- Pick someone who will help you prepare for the future rather than ignoring the signs of the times.
- Pick someone who will encourage you, pray for and with you, and be a source of strength rather than a drain on your emotions.
As someone who is drawn to comfort in a powerful way (my bed is my favorite place in the house), it is in my nature to push aside scary news and hope for the best. My head tells me that is foolish, but my heart says, “ignore that stuff and cuddle!” For this reason, having someone like Eric in my life is highly valuable. He can listen to (useful) news, stay informed, and still keep his cool. He tells me the truth but also reminds me of God’s sovereignty when I feel myself starting to shake.
When you are going through a difficult season, what do you most value in a friend? Someone to listen? Someone to help you handle logistics and run errands? Someone to hold you while you cry? What you most want in a friend during hard times is what you should also look for in a spouse. If you are together long enough, you will go through some tough seasons; and, the way the Bible is coming to life every day, we are all likely to go through some troubling times. What type of person do you want beside you if the walls cave in on you? Who do you want in your corner when your faith is shaken?
Is the person you are dating the one you want by your side if everything falls apart? Why or why not?
Keep breaking free!!!
Is your partner the type of person you want beside you in tough seasons of life?