A World In Fear
by Alan Sutton
I was 20 years old and a member of a Church youth group. I was occasionally asked to participate in the regular Sunday evening Church Gospel meeting by preaching a sermon. One of the Church elders, Mr Dennett I believe his name was, had invited me and a couple of my friends to his home to receive some training in public speaking. Our first lesson was an evening I still remember vividly, November 22, 1963.
We were together in Mr Dennett’s home office, which was upstairs in his house. As I recall, there were only two of us there, me and my closest friend, Geoff. I guess we had been there for about 30 minutes when, at around 8.00pm, Mr Dennett’s wife called up the stairs to say that the news was reporting that the President of the United States, John F Kennedy (JFK), had been shot. Shortly after came the news that JFK had died.
A man called Lee Harvey Oswald was shortly apprehended and charged with the assassination, and over the following few hours, the drama, much of it played live on television, rapidly unfolded. As Oswald was taken into custody in the police station, a night club owner called Jack Ruby stepped out of the waiting crowd and shot and killed him.
And then it began. Conspiracy theories on every side. Had there been another shooter? Was it the Mafia? Was Oswald, who was a Marxist and had defected to Russia on discharge from the Marines, in the pay of Russia?
The world became a scary place for some time as these plots were alleged. As it is today, the American president was seen as the most powerful man in the world and was very popular. Many believed he was the answer to many of the world’s problems. To this day, questions still linger as the true facts have never been substantially proved.
Throughout my 77 years in this world, I have lived through one crisis after another, and many were scary. All I can remember of the Berlin Blockade in 1948 was what I saw on television in later years. It was the start of what later became known as the Cold War, between Russia and the West. Soon after followed two other crises which I remember did scare me at the time; the first in 1956, the Suez Crisis, when I was 13 and with an over-active imagination.
Britain and France invaded Egypt when the Egyptians nationalised the Suez Canal, jointly owned by the two countries, and at the same time Israel invaded Egypt. I remember watching the news and seeing Anglo-French bombers taking off from Cyprus to attack Egypt, and this was soon followed by an air-borne invasion by British paratroopers. How would this end?
Later in 1962 came a period which threatened to take the world into all out nuclear war, when Russia began installing missiles in Cuba, just a few miles from the US mainland. There was a frightening period as more missiles were being shipped towards Cuba and Russia was warned by America to turn them back or face the consequences. The crisis went to the 11th hour before Russia turned the ships back.
Shortly before this event, in October 1959 and at the age of 16, I was baptised and was given a scripture which I’m not sure I have ever fully understood (so if you have any thoughts I would be glad to hear them). It was from 1 Peter 5 v 10:And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast (NIV).
I have always been unclear about and after you have suffered a little while. Remember I was just 16 and couldn’t understand what suffering I should expect. Ever since I have thought about different events in my life which could fit the bill. The greatest suffering I think about was the death of my son Chris at the age of 25. But that was 20 years ago, and some 40 years after my baptism. If it was that occasion or something else, I believe He has been true to His promise to restore me and make me strong, firm and steadfast,
“You will hear of wars and rumours of wars,” Jesus told His disciples when they asked Him “what will be the sign of your coming and the end of the age?” (Matt 24 v 3).
But not even Jesus knew when these things would come to pass (Matt 24 v 36). He mentions many things that will happen in those days, including signs in the heavens, false prophets, famines, pestilences and earthquakes and many will be deceived, He said, including Christians.
Those occasions in my life were some of the ‘wars and rumours of wars’, and they don’t include World Wars 1 & 2, Korea, Vietnam and The Falklands, all of which have occurred in my lifetime and involved some family and friends. Now we have possibly the scariest pestilence any of us has known, the Coronavirus, and that has attracted its fair share of conspiracies.
Pastor Sarah has shared some very wise and well-considered thoughts on this in the past few days, leaving us with some other end-times teaching from Mathew 25, the parable of the wise and foolish virgins (all part of Jesus’ teaching). The conclusion of the passage is although nobody but God knows the day nor the hour when these things will happen and Jesus will return for His Church, we need to be like the five wise virgins and be prepared.
How does this tie in with all the prophetic teaching from Matthew?
The best answer I can give you is, I DON’T KNOW. Except I DO know IT WILL BE OK. We will come through. I could make a partly-educated guess, but I would not be so brave or so foolish as to give you an answer. So many of the prophecies in both the Old and New Testaments refer to different time periods, some already gone, some still to come and some for the present time.
But I can say with certainty that JESUS IS ALIVE, and HE WILL RETURN.
I have, however, been reading what Jesus says about the time of Noah, in Matthew 24 v 37-44, with the warning to be ready. It rings a lot of bells for me as we go through this present crisis.
The reason for writing this blog is because Pastor Julian asked me to share some thoughts on the subject. All I can do is tell you what I have seen in my life and some of them were scary. I have learned, however, that God does not reveal everything to us, but He does tell us that whatever happens it will be in His time and that He has not given up on us and never will.
So, all that remains for us to do is to believe Him; trust Him and don’t listen to conspiracy theories from people who are just here to deceive us. OUR GOD REIGNS, and nothing or nobody will ever convince me otherwise.
Romans 8 v 38 to 39:  For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,  Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
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