Security in the Storms of Life
September 1, 2001
by Billy Graham
Where is God during the storms of life? Where is He in all the troubles of the world? Why doesn't He stop the evil? The Bible assures us that God will abolish evil when Jesus Christ returns.
But Jesus did not tell us when He is coming back: "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."(1) But Jesus said that there would be certain signs that we could watch for. They are called "the signs of the times."(2)
A group of disciples came to Jesus privately. " 'Tell us,' they said, 'when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?' "(3)
The Beginning of Sorrows
So Jesus sat down with them and began to teach these things. His answer, recorded in Matthew 24, speaks to the troubles of our own times: "You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows."(4)
We are living in a time of storms: Famines and plagues of many kinds, tuberculosis, AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases. Turmoil, political and social chaos, change and uncertainty. Deepening poverty and homelessness. Racial division and crime. Physical and sexual abuse, and the disintegration of the family. Alcoholism, drug addiction, pornography, and other dangerous behaviors eating away at society. Earthquakes, hurricanes and tornadoes, and other natural disasters of many kinds.
Jesus said that these events are merely a warning of things yet to come, that this is only the beginning of sorrows. These warnings are not just parables or myths that we read about in the book of Matthew; they are the very headlines of our day. They are the evidence of Christ's prophecy fulfilled before our eyes.
But, Jesus said, the true Church would grow through persecution. It would spring forth from darkness and neglect even as the churches in oppressed countries have sprung full-blown from the soil of despair: "This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations," He told them, "and then the end will come."(5)
The Final Hours
When the work of the Church is nearing fulfillment on earth, Christ told His followers, there would be signs that the final hours had come: "The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken."(6)
Jesus told them, "The sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other."(7)
Jesus told His followers this in concrete and vivid detail. To be sure that they understood that what He had been telling them was real, not myth or metaphor, He offered the following parable: "Learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near, at the very doors. Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things are fulfilled. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. But of that day and hour no one knows, no, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be."(8)
By using a parable, Jesus illustrated that what He had told them about the end of the age was to be considered as fact. In those images, in Christ's own words, we have a glimpse of what the final storm will look like.
Imagine how shocking and unsettling these teachings must have been to the disciples of Jesus. Today also many people have difficulty seeing and believing these words.
A Time to Live
For me, the importance of this passage is not that it gives such vivid detail of the End Times but that it assures us of the eternal security of those who put their trust in Jesus Christ. Suffering and death are nothing to look forward to, but death is all around us. It is inevitable.
The Bible says, "It is appointed unto men once to die."(9) All of nature is in the process of dying, yet most people are living their lives as if they will never die. All over the world men and women are living for today with barely a thought of the possibility of eternity.
But death is not the issue here; Jesus was talking about the ultimate promise of eternal life with God. The words of Jesus Christ are good news for a world in crisis. For He gave us the good news that God loves us, that He is a God of mercy and that He will forgive us if we confess and forsake our sins and have faith in Him. He gave us the Gospel of hope.
Faith in Times of Crisis
The marvelous security of the Christian faith is that it is specifically designed for overcoming the storms of this life and giving us the certainty of the life to come in heaven. The Scriptures tell us that the world's days are numbered. But for those of us whose hope is in Christ, we know that we shall overcome.
The Prophet Isaiah, in a passage that foreshadows the coming of Christ, wrote, "Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."(10) That is the hope of every believer.
When Jesus Christ comes again, He will set up His Kingdom of righteousness and social justice where hatred, greed, jealousy, war and death will no longer exist. Jesus Himself promised the end of the present evil world system and the establishment of a new order called the Kingdom of God.
Jesus used images that were dramatic and compelling, but He did not engage in fantasy. He told His followers, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,"(11) and He was Truth and Veracity personified. Jesus indicated that when certain things come to pass, we can be assured that the end is near. He said, "Because of spiritual blindness, you cannot read the signs of the times."(12) He indicated that only those who have spiritual illumination and discernment from the Holy Spirit can hope to understand the trends and meanings of history.
Most of us are familiar with these memorable words: "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this."(13)
These words are the best promise of security in a world of tension and turmoil. If you want to have peace with God and find security for these times of trouble, you must answer one important question:
Who Is the Ruler of Your Life?
Are you trying to be the master of your own fate? Are you trying to be the captain of your own soul? Do you believe that you can navigate life's storms without the Master at the helm?
Or is the Kingdom of God within you? The King of kings is the hope of every man, woman and child of every nation, and His Kingdom is forever.