If you are alive and conscious on this planet, you have to work hard to avoid the glaring headlines that accost us each day. Wars and rumors of wars, severe weather and other natural disasters, famine, persecution, terrorism, and the list goes on. For many countries, the danger is not merely headlines, but everyday harsh reality. How do people stand strong at such times? Those of us in the United States are challenged to comprehend such evils. In my own life, I have endured poverty, abuse, injustice and oppression, but my trials were trifling compared to the suffering that many people are enduring today. Sometimes my trials made me fearful and anxious, but at other times, my character and perseverance were strengthened, especially when I learned to trust Yeshua.
What is going on in the world? Natural disasters such as floods, landslides, and forest fires, to name a few, have killed thousands and left countless others homeless. Economies and governments are faltering and even collapsing. Terrorists are seeking out and gaining strong footholds in many countries. Genocide is becoming more rampant as terrorist and extremist groups take control, torturing and murdering countless people as hundreds of thousands flee in desperation.*
What do we do? How do we prepare ourselves for what may befall us? Many have taken to storing and hoarding gold, food, weapons. Others are formulating emergency plans of survival and/or escape. Escape to where? What is a safe place? Will it be safe tomorrow? No matter how diligent and excellent our planning, how can we possibly be prepared for every possible disaster? Consider Yeshua‘s parable of the man who built extra buildings to store his excess (Luke 12:13-21). Yeshua warns us that to build up earthly treasures does not make us rich towards YHVH. Contrast this with the young fellow who selflessly shared his loaves and fishes. He was perhaps facing immediate starvation, not some future unforeseen disaster, yet he shared the little he had and was richly rewarded (John 6:1-14).
Our culture values self-sufficiency, so it is not intuitive for us to prepare ourselves as Scripture teaches us. Yeshua tells us not to be anxious for physical provisions and security (Luke 12:22-32). We are to build up treasures, but they are spiritual, not physical, treasures. Also, it is natural in our flesh to fight for protection and survival, but there is a greater survival at stake and we must learn to value it above our fleshly well-being. Yeshua teaches us that we are not to rely on weapons (Matt 26:51-52).
These are difficult lessons that take much prayer and effort. Peter and I have struggled over the years and continue to struggle to take on the mind of Yeshua and not allow our flesh to dictate our attitudes and actions. We are learning to let go of our earthly treasures, for they are not our security. YHVH is our provider (Ps 104:27-28). We are realizing that our true battles are not physical, but spiritual (Eph 6:12) and that YHVH is our only true refuge (Ps 46-:1-3). Our severest trials are ahead of us. Yet, we are discovering that if we can be faithful in little matters or trials, we will be more fully prepared as the severity of our trials increases (Luke 16:10).
All of us face trials of some sort at the present. How are we reacting? Are we fearful and anxious, perhaps indulging in self-pity? Or are we learning to let go and trust our Father? How are we preparing ourselves for the severe trials that seem inevitable? Are we strengthening our relationship with our Father and Yeshua? Are we yielding ourselves ever more to the gifts and empowerment of the Holy Spirit? We have plenty of opportunities to practice as we support our brothers and sisters who are currently facing severe trials. We can begin to share not only our surplus, but even our loaves and fishes. When others treat us hatefully, we can respond with love. We can stop accusing errant leaders and pray for them instead. When the severe trials come, then we will not falter or collapse, but we will be strong and able to continue the work our Master has assigned to us, even to the end (Luke 12:35-40).
*A list of the top 50 countries that are under severe trial can be found at https://www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/world-watch-list/. Please pray for them.