As a two-time cancer survivor I know a thing or two about fear. One thing that I have learned is that fear can be addictive. The adrenaline rush of fear acts on the body much like an opiate. Your heart and breathing rates increase as your fight and flight reflexes engage.
Sometimes, fear feels good. Like the thrill you get when going on a carnival ride, riding a horse at a full gallop, or are jumping out of an airplane. At other times fear can be overwhelming, such as when you get a cancer diagnosis or see your country ravaged by natural disasters or war.
Living in constant fear is awful, because fear is the worst of thieves. It steals precious treasures…happiness, peace of mind and time. What is worse, fear is contagious and has been weaponized. Governments, religions and individuals often use fear to increase power, control people and receive attention.
Calamity begets fear. When disaster strikes, people, even unbelievers, feel the immediate need to put the fear of God in hearts and minds by communicating that the crisis is God’s fault, divine punishment for sinful living, or that the end of the world is coming and coming fast.
Whenever I hear that something is a sign of the end times, I find peace by turning to the Bible and re-reading the comforting words of Christ Jesus when he clearly states that no man will know when the end will be. Only God knows, not Jesus, not any human.
Jesus further reassures us by instructing, “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.” Matthew 24: 4-7.
There have been many, many wars, hurricanes, fires and earthquakes since Christ spoke those words almost two thousand years ago and humans are still here. Are these the end times? I don’t know, nobody does. What is important, is to believe that Jesus Christ is your personal savior, then, there is no reason to fear the end times. What is there to fear? Going to heaven and experiencing perfect love?
Can natural disasters be signs from God? Absolutel! The Bible tell us so. The question is what is the message that God is sending?
Human’s cannot surprise God, he has seen it all before. I am pretty sure that:
- God has been aware of humanity’s sinful ways since Adam and Eve disobeyed him in the Garden of Eden and then to make matters worse a jealous Cain put Abel under with a rock upside the head.
- There have been hurricanes hitting coastal areas for as long as there has been oceans.
- Forest fires have existed since lightening hit its first tree and man learned how to make fire.
- Earthquakes in Mexico, or anywhere else, are never a punishment from God due to United States presidential election results, no matter what a Hollywood actress may believe.
This “disaster is a punishment from God” philosophy reminded me of when I was battling my cancer. I remember someone asking me what I thought I had done that God was punishing me so harshly.
After this empathy challenged person, who felt greatly blessed with good health and substantial wealth when compared to myself, a fifty year old woman stuck in a body cast, trapped in pain and a hospital bed in her living room, full of cancer and without a lot of good options, had finished suggesting that self-reflection and repentance on my part was necessary to appease an angry God, I responded.
My response then, would be the same as today, to those who suggest that disease and disaster are signs of an angry God. I agree. God gets angry. He may use illness and other trials to test people, but, maybe, just maybe, he does not punish or test the sick, traumatized and devastated. Maybe he is testing the response of those around them.
Why do I believe this? Because, Jesus clearly tells me so in Matthew 25: 31-46
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
I am a strong believer in the power of prayer. God can and does do miracles through prayer. However, “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” James 2: 14-17
God promises to never leave or forsake us. He always keeps his promises. Christians need not live in constant fear of the end times, physical or natural disaster. It is during those times that we should look to our Heavenly Father and take stock of our blessings. Call on him for faith, strength, courage and to grant us the peace that passes all understanding. Then, it is time to bravely roll up our sleeves and get to work helping those who need assistance.
I will always have a healthy fear of God, but I have no interest in being a “Chicken Little, The Sky is Falling!” christian. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said it best, “The Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself”
Prayer is a powerful. Please pray for those affected by the hurricanes, wild fires and other natural disasters. Then, volunteer, give blood, or donate at:
The Salvation Army Disaster Relief https://disaster.salvationarmyusa.org/
Red Cross Disaster Relief: https://www.redcross.org/donate/disaster-relief?scode=RSG00000E017&gclid=CjwKCAjwos7NBRAWEiwAypNCe1F5-3X-x10xxZ_UJsDexvntU8pdxkfDJIPYaFVxOIE98y5BQb92uRoCK3EQAvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds&dclid=CIGEldnxmNYCFRU5Twod-6cAMQ