But when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be troubled; for such things must happen, but the end is not yet. (Mark 13:7)
Troublesome Times Are Here
Robert E. Winsett was an American composer and publisher of gospel music. One of his popular songs is titled; “Jesus Is Coming Soon” published in 1956. The beginning refrain says, “Troublesome times are here, filling men’s hearts with fear, freedom we all hold dear now is at stake.” It seems a fitting tune for the trouble times the world is experiencing. There is the COVID-19 pandemic that continues to scourge the world with millions of infections and a half million deaths. The United States is faced with racial unrest, economic shut-down, social conflict, political posturing, and an ever-increasing fear of the influence of national media. These are troublesome times without a doubt.
For those living in the tiny cocoon of time known as 2020, it seems the world is crashing down around them. Fear drives the heart to think these days are unparalleled in the history of mankind. One of the factors that cause great trepidation is the chaos of the world and the unending feelings of doom and despair. It is interesting to reflect on history and realize that when many of the adults living today grew up in the 1960s, the world was filled with troublesome times. It might be argued that as bad as things seem right now, it pales in comparison to one of the most turbulent decades of history. The 1960s was a time of mass protests against the war in Vietnam. Soldiers returning were shunned, mistreated, disrespected, and abused. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. Five years later Martin Luther King was assassinated. In June of 1968, Robert Kennedy was assassinated. Black Power became a dominant force in the civil rights movement. Women’s liberation unleashed a barrage of feminist movements that still resonate today. Hippies became popular with long hair and free love creating communes of social rebellion against authority.
In October of 1962, the world stood on the edge of nuclear holocaust as the United States and Russia rattled sabers on the tiny island of Cuba. There were wars in Indochina, Portugal, Indo-Pakistani war, Algeria, Nigeria, Laos, Sudan, and Yemen. Conflicts raged in China, Ireland, Mexico, and Eastern Europe. The Democratic National Convention in Chicago turned into a riot with police breaking up protestors with tear gas, clubs, and dogs. Riots were common all over America and especially in Detroit and Los Angeles (Watts). Churches were bombed, Satanism became popular and religion vilified. During a protest at South Carolina State University police fired on a crowd of 200 unarmed protestors killing three and wounding 28. The list could go on with the troubles our parents faced in troublesome times.
Jesus said two thousand years ago that troublesome times were coming. He did not suggest this was anything new. His teaching about wars and rumors of wars did not confine this to an “end of time” era when the world will come to an end in a conflagration of chaos. Both in Matthew 24 and Mark 13 Jesus is pointing to the coming destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. Many pundits of religious error use these passages to incite the masses to paranoia and fear with misapplication of the teaching of Jesus. The one thing assured by Jesus was that man has changed little (if any) since the beginning of time. Someone may say that times are bad today and chaos fills the world like no other time. In fact, times have been bad since the day Eve listened to the serpent. Days are difficult now but imagine how bad they were when Noah had to build an ark and witness the destruction of every human being on the face of the planet save his family. The Egyptian people thought the world had come to an end when God brought ten devastating plagues against their nation. It must be remembered that after the Hebrews left the economy of Egypt was crippled and all the families still had to bury their firstborn. Many years later when the Assyrian army came into the northern tribes of Israel and then the Babylonians marched into Jerusalem destroying the House of God, troublesome times had come to Israel. When the Romans marched on Jerusalem in 70 A.D. the warning from Jesus became crystal clear. In the past two thousand years, there have been wars killing billions of souls, plagues that scourged the earth and famine and pestilence without end.
Troublesome times are here. That is nothing new. What did Jesus say? He said, “Do not be troubled.” These troubles and trials and heartaches will continue until the end of the world and when that day comes it will be by the hand of God – not man. It may be bad today but it has been worse before (the 1960’s) and it can become worse tomorrow but what does it matter to the child of God who trusts in the will of the Father. The prophet Jahaziel said long ago not to be troubled or dismayed because of the chaos that swirls around the souls of men. The battle is not ours. The battle belongs to the Lord. Let God fight the battles and let the child rest in the comfort of his Father’s arms. I remember the 1960’s from a child’s perspective as one of the most deeply religious times of my life and yet my parents lived seeing all that happened. They faced an uncertain world but they were wholly devoted to God and it made a difference in their life and my life. 2020 is a challenging world. Where is my faith in God?