The bad news feels relentless right now.
Inflation is rising steadily, gas prices are ridiculous, and the ongoing supply chain problems keep popping up like the game “Whack-a-mole.” How unexpected and crazy that suddenly there was no baby formula on store shelves?
Worst of all is, of course, gun violence. We are shocked at every mass shooting, but we are also becoming a little more numb every time. The body can only absorb so much bad news, so it’s not all bad that we turn away sometimes from the onslaught. If we are near and can do something, we must. If we are far away we can pray and we must, but we can’t all carry all these heavy loads. Only our Father in heaven can do that and He has asked us to let Him carry our burdens. In Matthew 11:28 Jesus says, “Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
Our calling is to walk in His Spirit listening to His individual leading in our lives. (For more on the Spirit-led life, look for my new ebook coming next week.)
Still those shootings that make national news, like the awful shooting in Uvalde, Texas, must be taken to God. Ask Him what He wants to teach you or how He wants to use you. But mass shootings aren’t the only ones. Many others happen weekly. And unless we keep up with local news via some reporting source we miss the single shootings or the overdose deaths which are no less tragic than a mass killing.
All this bad news leads to fear, anxiety, withdrawal, and anger.
We give voice to our outrage on social media, but at home in private we try to carry on as if nothing has changed. We pretend it doesn’t affect us. But underneath our confident exteriors, the fear still lurks.
In days like these I have learned to remind myself of several truths I know are unchanging.
1. We are not the first to live in anxiety filled days. I think back to the years of World War II and other eras of war and disease in history and remind myself God brought those people through hard times and He will do the same with me and my people. Many of those people were sure the world was ending, or at least that they were living in the last days. We may think so too, but only God knows.
2. God has a plan and He is always working it. None of us can know what God is up to but we can know He is not asleep. Psalm 121:4 says, “Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.”
God is not clueless. He is not absent. He is not forgetful or overwhelmed. Quite the opposite. Jesus told us “My Father is working …” (John 5:17). God is active and ruling all the time, even when we can’t see His hand and what we do see makes no sense.
3. God will make all things right one day. He has promised He will settle scores one day, as He says in Romans 12:19: “Vengeance is mine, I will repay.” He has also promised “I am making all things new” (Revelation 21:5). Therefore, I can relax in His promises to make things right and new one day.
4. Today is not the end of the story. There are days that feel earth shattering, days that feel like a gaping hole has opened beneath our feet and we are falling into an abyss of the unknown. But God reminds us, “even there your hand shall lead me” (Psalm 139:10), “nothing is too hard for you” (Jeremiah 32:17), and “we know that for those who love God all things work together for good” (Romans 8:28). We can trust Him. Period.
Another place to find comfort and stability in times like these is in the words of great hymns of the faith. Isaac Watts wrote the enduring hymn, “O God, Our Help in Ages Past.” which is based on Psalm 90 which begins, “Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations … even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God” (KJV).
Music can stick in our brains, and when the words point us to trust in Jesus that’s is a very good thing. Lyrics based on Scripture can remind us that our fears, though circumstantially different than those in ages past, are still the same as those faced by saints today. Here are three stanzas to this hymn by Isaac Watts which I pray will give you a sense of peace.
O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home.
Within the shadow of thy throne
Still may we dwell secure;
Sufficient is thine arm alone,
And our defense is sure.
Before the hills in order stood,
or earth received its frame,
From everlasting thou art God,
To endless years the same.
We all fear the loss of life, health, freedom, peace, and the unknown future. Though we bravely say as Christians that we do not fear hardship and even death, when its threat comes near our fears fly to the surface and force us to decide what we believe.
Like the terrorist’s bombs, the shooter’s bullets, or the constant shelling in Ukraine, none of us knows what tomorrow will bring.
But I do know who will be there with me! I do know He has promised to never leave me or forsake me because as Watts wrote, “From everlasting thou art God and endless years the same.”
The unbroken cord of three strands woven steadily through the fabric of time is Jesus, one with the Father and the Spirit, who is “the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
These words have been of comfort to me through my roller coaster experiences in life, including my menopause years when I felt crazy at times I reminded myself: He never changes.
When the next mass shooting occurs and my fears multiply with the frightening aftermath, I will remember, He never changes.
He is my comfort in times of trouble, just as He has been for His people for thousands of years.
He is my only hope for the years to come.
He is my shelter from the stormy blast.
He is and will be my eternal home.
When something happens to shake your life and world, where will your hope be? I’m so grateful for the words of Newton’s hymn, which often plays as background music in my mind, reminding me of His enduring, unshakable, eternal presence.
O God our help in ages past,
Our help for years to come.
Be thou our guide while life shall last,
And our eternal home.
He never changes!
As Isaiah 33:6 tells us, “He is the stability of our times.”
To find our designed printable of Isaiah 33:6, a key verse for our unstable times, go to our Etsy store.
If this article encouraged you, here are a couple additional articles Barbara wrote on trusting God in difficult times: