Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Lesson 5: Fear of Global Calamity

Read Chapter 13 from Fearless and we'll discuss the questions below.

Memory Verse: “Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for Him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes.” Psalm 37:3

God you are in control of all things. Help us to hear Your voice above the clamor of bad news reports, a diagnosis that we don’t want to receive, and anything else that tends shatter our peace. Grant us serenity, courage, and wisdom so that we are able to respond to You more fully. In the name of Your Son Jesus, our Savior and Redeemer. Amen

This week we’ll explore one of the most prevalent fears around – the fear of global calamity. We hear about it on the news and online. Our friends and neighbors warn us of the latest disaster rumors. Life is a dangerous endeavor. We pass our days in the shadows of ominous realities. But God has diagnosed the pain of the world and written the book on its treatment. We can trust Him.

Pharmaceutical companies have invaded our nightly entertainment with their promises of renewed vitality, but they also warn against potential tragedy. There is something about that merger of happy faces with voice-over advisories of paralysis that just doesn’t work.

Question #1 - Are there paradoxes you see in life, or in the media, that bother you?

Sitting on the Mount of Olives, Jesus issued a “buckle your seat belt, no kidding, life can be fatal to your health” warning. He wanted his followers to know what they were facing, because life with Christ is not necessarily an easy journey. Christ promised He would be there for us on the way, though, and His burden is light because we get to walk step-by-step with Him. But He began His lecture with the unexpected words, “Watch out that no one deceives you.”

Question #2 - When you think of global disaster, do you fear being deceived? Why do you think Jesus mentioned deception first in His description of the end of the world?

Real courage embraces the twin realities of current difficulty and ultimate triumph. Christians should live somewhere between Pollyanna and Chicken Little, between blind denial and blatant panic. This world needs levelheaded, clear-thinking, and still-believing followers of Christ who will bring others to focus on God and His grace in a time of tragedy.

Question #3 - How does false or empty optimism hurt you more than a realistic evaluation of your situation? “The church” in America has a reputation for expecting Christians to always be positive, but Jesus was brutally honest in His description of terrible things to come. How did we lose that realistic perspective, and why?

The Titanic sank because contractors settled for cheap rivets and planned poorly. Rivets are the glue that hold the steel plates together. Facing a shortage of quality bolts, the builders used substandard ones that popped their heads upon impact with the iceberg. Because of this shortsighted construction, hundreds of people lost their lives in a matter of minutes in the icy waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

Question #4 - How sturdy are the bolts of your belief? Take a look at what’s happening around the globe. Do you think you could handle the type of persecution that Christians face around the world?

All things, big and small, flow out of the purpose of God and serve His good will. When the world appears to be out of control, it isn’t. We can trust that God is holy, good, loving, and in control. Our vision is limited: what looks like terror might actually be triumph. What looks like heartbreak might actually be healing. We must trust that God is who He says He is.

Question #5 - How can you remind yourself that God is on control?

Yes, sometimes life stinks. But it won’t forever. As one of Max Lucado's friends likes to say, “Everything will work out in the end. If it’s not working out, it’s not the end.” Write a prayer about the things that are not working out in your everyday life today. Take time each day this week to pray the prayer you wrote, and trust God to take care of the concerns you bring to Him.

"For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more that all we can ask or imagine, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen." Ephesians 3:14-21


  1. 1) It always seems contradictory to have happiness and tragedy paired together. I can't help but think of some of the commercials for medications that are going to "fix all that ails us," and then the fine print of all the things that could go wrong. I'm all for medications because I know some are life-saving. It's the pill-popping, quick-fix mentality that is alarming to me. Most paradoxes don't really bother me EXCEPT when we are given a "false picture" of what it means to be happy. Usually happiness is based on circumstances and conditions - being slim, having money, being healthy, being picture-poster beautiful! None of this is ever permanent.
    2) I don't fear being deceived, because I know we are being deceived. I suppose a better phrasing would be "not told the full truth." I feel, especially by the news/media, that we are very seldom told the full truth or given the real picture. Sometimes this is due to national safety and security reasons, so therefore valid. Jesus mentioned deception first in His description of the end of the world, because Jesus knew that we would be deceived. When we are in the midst of a tragedy or traumatic event, we don't always think clearly because we are just trying to process what is going on and our minds can become jumbled. In this state, we can be easily tricked or deceived. Jesus wants us to be prepared for this and not to react fearfully.
    3) False optimism sets me up for disappointment. Being realistically aware of what is going on helps me to be able to pray more effectively and handle what comes along. We can actually be harmed if we are always pretending that "everything's fine." That would be living in denial and hiding versus living freely and abundantly. We may have lost a realistic perspective "of terrible things to come" because of our "wealthy" and comfy lifestyles. We can so easily insulate ourselves from the outside world because once we are aware of things, as Christians, we are expected to act. That's hard! I sometimes picture Jesus asking me, "Karen, you knew that my children were hungry, why didn't you do something?" That's a huge reality check for me.
    4) Persecution - wow, I don't know. I would like to think that I would die for my faith. Lord, may I never have to face that severity. I know I have been persecuted in small ways - family member's unkind comments, not speaking up when I should have... It's hard to imagine dealing with what some of our fellow Christians are dealing with even this day.
    (Max Lucado suggests checking out these two websites for information on the suffering that is prevalent worldwide: www.persecution.com or www.ijm.org)
    5) I remind myself that God is in control by reading Scripture, praying, and being in fellowship with other believers.

  2. 1. I don't know if it really bothers me, but one paradox in life is how close crying and laughing are on our "emotional scale". I know I have laughed so hard I cried and then there have been times I cried so hard, I found myself ALMOST laughing. The one paradox in life that does
    GET TO ME is the advertisment for medications. The commercial will state how it will help eleviate a certain ailment; but then they will give a 30 second blurb about the side effects.
    2. I know half-truths are out there. I also know that God will be with us and protect us. He probably warned us to so we wouldn't react too quicly. We need to try to keep our wits about us. Chances are we won't in times of true crisis (I know I don't) but if we be-friend other Christians they can hellp us to think more clearly.
    3. This is a very thought provoking question for me. I try to "put on a happy face" even when things aren't going so well. I need to realize that things won't always go as planned and life won't always be wonderful. It is okay to admit that there are tough times.
    4. We live in an area and country where religious persecution is rare. I can't imagine being persecuted for my religion. We are challenged about other situations all of the time...our political, social, educational beliefs...but religious beliefs are so personal. I hope I would be strong enough to stand on my religious beliefs.
    5. I say to myself"God is in control" or "no reason to worry, God has it figured out". A friend of mine sent me a plaque saying" Good Morning, Jeanine, This is God. I have today all worked out for you. I won't be needing your help. So, enjoy your day. Love, God". I have this plaque where I can read it every morning.

  3. Question #1 - I think we are surrounded by paradoxes and even create some of them in our personal life. Parents strive to be friends to their children, especially teenagers. How can you discipline your best friend when the expectation is that you agreement with them? How can you profess Christianity and the elect practicing yoga/mediation where you chant other religious sayings? How can I work for a defense contractor who builds and supports weapons designed to kill people and yet pray for world peace?
    Question #2 - Global disaster is inevitable-it has been foretold. It is all the hype around how imminent it is and the perception that man can control or prevent it from happening. Jesus knows that Satan is the great deceiver and constantly is at play in our world to use whatever methods that will cause us to doubt God. We have human weakness that are easily exploited especially when we are cut off from a strong Christian support system. Jesus wants us to not only think for ourselves but to also seek wisdom to avod being deceived.
    Question #3 - As Christians we often have the image of resting safely in Jesus’ arms and that this provides some sort of supernatural protection from calamity, sickness, failure, loss or hurt. Too often the church uses this type of image to reach out to those who are hurting and forget to tell them that we have assurance but not protection from bad things happening to us. It is excepting that God is in control whether I understand what is happening or no matter how it hurts is how I can handle what life throws at me.
    Question #4 - Putting on that ‘optimistic’ outlook I would like to think I could withstand persecution for my faith, but realistically I don’t think I am strong enough. I know that my weakest areas are seeing my children/grandchildren suffer. Seeing them tortured would I deny my God-most probably. For myself I am used to a pretty cushy life so going into hiding or living underground would definitely be a hardship. Not sure how I would react but many cases have shown that it is times like these that strengthen us. I definitely would be replacing the current bolts I have holding my life together with stronger better ones!
    Question #5 - How can you remind yourself that God is on control? No matter what tragedy has occurred or loss suffered the sun rises the next day. The Creator who spoke the world into existence constantly shows us His message in small or dramatic ways. Though my soul aches the birds still sing, a child laughs, a kind word is spoken. Through nature and acts of love God demonstrates that He is in control. Everything will work out in the end. If it’s not working out, it’s not the end- we may not like how it is working out or even how it ends but it is all in God’s hands.