Sudden Fear — And the Desolation of the Wicked
Vol: 144 Issue: 30 Monday, September 30, 2013
I read a statistic that said the stock market crash has erased something close to one third of the average American’s 401k holdings.
For folks around my age, it means rethinking the age at which retirement is possible.
I know a fellow about my age who retired on his investments a couple of years ago. The crash is forcing him out of retirement.
For somebody in their sixties or early seventies who retired recently, their monthly retirement income has suddenly dropped by a third and there isn’t a lot they can do about it.
So what do you do? A person’s first instinct is to panic. When enough people panic at once, well, that’s how markets crash in the first place.
Individuals panic by cutting back on their cable bill, or selling their extra car, canceling their vacation or coming out of retirement back into the workplace.
Corporations panic by laying off more workers than necessary, selling off more inventory at greater discounts than necessary and closing more outlets than necessary.
Lenders panic by cutting off more credit than necessary to more borrowers than necessary. In all these cases, the thinking is the same — cut back all the way to the bone and then reorganize.
Restructuring is not the same as reacting. One restructures as necessary. When one reacts, it is out of panic.
It’s either controlled or uncontrolled, but its still panic. Panic is when you don’t know what to do — and you do it anyway.
I know Christians who when they panic, instead of cutting back, they double their tithe. They double down on their tithe so that God will bless the stuff they still have.
Sounds spiritual. But it’s not, really. No matter where one stands on tithing as a doctrine, you can’t get around what a tithe is mathematically — it’s ten percent.
(So if you’re already tithing, then ‘doubling down’ is like offering God a tip.)
Ok. Let’s roll everything back to zeroes for a moment and take stock of the situation.
First, we’re Christians who believe that Bible prophecy is true and relevant to this generation and that we are living in the last days. We go to church on Sunday and pray, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done.”
What does the Bible forecast for the last days? A great apostastic social meltdown. The rise of antichrist. The collapse of the economy. Earthquakes, famines, wars and pestilences.
What do we see? A great apostatic social meltdown. “Apostasy” means to ‘fall away from the faith’ — it refers to watering down of doctrinal principles to conform to worldly principles.
The apostasy is global — former bastions of Christianity across Europe have all but formally renounced their faith. Christianity in the West is on the decline to the degree that the term ‘post-Christian era’ is no longer surprising when applied to America.
Is the world ready to embrace the antichrist when he comes? I submit that the antichrist could run openly AS the antichrist and probably get the majority non-Christian vote, if he were half as charismatic as Barack Hussein Obama.
The global economy is in free-fall, as we’ve already noted. And we’ve spent the past ten years up to our necks in earthquakes, famines, wars and pestilences.
This is exactly what the Bible predicted for the last days. We know this in our hearts and in our minds. But we rail against the moral meltdown.
We worry for the future of a country under Barack Hussein Obama even as we KNOW what the Bible says is the ultimate future of not just this country but the entire western world under antichrist.
We fret and panic over our 401k accounts, knowing that what is transpiring is all part of God’s plan for the last days.
We search the Scriptures for answers to questions like; “what should Christians do to overcome in such times as these?”
But isn’t this what we prayed for?
There is an old principle of spiritual warfare that says, “Be careful what you pray for. You might get it.” We tend to view it more as a joke than a principle.
We should take it seriously — to do otherwise is the spiritual equivalent to assuming a gun isn’t loaded.
A trained warrior knows what a bullet can do and treats all weapons as if they were loaded unless he has personally inspected them to ensure their status.
The seven words, “I didn’t know the gun was loaded!” form the most tragic phrase in the English language.
Prayer is as real as a loaded gun. Because prayer is real, prayer has real consequences. It isn’t enough to talk about trusting God in times like these. We’ve prayed for His Kingdom to come, for His will to be done.
Prayer is real, His kingdom is real and that His will is sovereign. So if you’re afraid of what is coming, does that mean you’re faithless? Does it mean you aren’t trusting the Lord? No. It means you are human.
But it also means you’re missing out on some of what God has set aside for you.
“Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh. For the LORD shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken.” (Proverbs 3:25-26)
Notice there are two fears being addressed here. “Being afraid” and “sudden fear.”
“Sudden fear” is what comes to us all. Fear of losing my stuff. Fear of not being able to retire when I’d planned. Fear that my 401k is lost and gone forever.
It is this concept of ‘sudden fear’ that keeps us from being reckless. It is what keeps you from trying to beat oncoming traffic.
After all, you’re saved. You’re a Christian. Nothing can happen to you without God’s permission. So why don’t you just jump out in front of that oncoming car? (The ‘sudden fear’ that God may have granted that permission without telling you.)
Let’s move up to the next level; from ‘sudden fear’ to ‘being afraid.’
God says, ‘be not afraid of sudden fear’. This is the trust level. Where you recognize that the danger is real and the fear is real.
But we needn’t BE afraid of that sudden fear, NOR of the desolation of the wicked when (not ‘if’) it cometh. Note the promise: “For the Lord shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken.”
It is ok to be afraid IN the ‘sudden’ sense — but not to be afraid OF the fear. We live in the world, but we are not OF it. The current economic panic began when folks decided they couldn’t pay their mortgages and defaulted.
There are exceptions to every rule but, in the main, what happens when somebody defaults on their mortgage? Do they evaporate? Or do they move somewhere else where they still have to pay, even if it is less?
The Lord differentiates ‘sudden fear’ from giving in to panic. You lose your job and stop paying your bills to preserve your available cash for when you ‘really’ need it. That is panic; fear devoid of trust.
“Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it. Say not unto thy neighbour, Go, and come again, and to morrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee.” (Proverbs 3:27-28)
Sudden fear is an understanding of the situation and a respect for its gravity. Being afraid of sudden fear is what happens when one forgets to place one’s confidence in the Lord.
This is more than just a pretty platitude. It is a bedrock principle of doctrine. It is the Source of that “peace that surpasseth all understanding.”
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27)
“Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:31-33)
There is but one way to seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness than I can find in Scripture — and that is to trust Jesus. It is one thing to respect the risks attached as ‘sudden fear’ — it is another to allow it to rule your life.
“Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”(Matthew 6:34)
Don’t worry. God’s got it all under control.
Note: This Letter was originally published Novemeber 19, 2008. The economy still doesn’t look any better today but there is still nothing to be afraid of.