I am a naturally anxious person. Like Martha in the Bible, I fret about so many things. These days, I hear a lot of people fretting about the recent growth of militant Islam. New alliances are being made, territories taken, whole political regimes fleeing before the sectarian onslaught and their myriads of minions ready to die for the God they call Allah.
For those who put their trust in the kings and kingdoms of this earth, it’s probably reasonable to fear recent political developments. After all, some seventy odd years ago, the cry of “Deutchland über Alles” became the seemingly inexorable impetus to both kill and be killed. While we must not forget that the actual reign of the thousand-year Third Reich lasted little more than ten years, they were, to be sure, ten bitter and horrendously difficult years. Still, they hardly actualized the wild and boastful claims of Hitler’s Mein Kampf.
Unlike secularists, Christians do not put their hope and trust in the things and people of this earth because there are other more powerful and enduring forces at work in the world. And while it’s theoretically possible for Muslims to politically rule all nations, Christians should not live in fear of what our lives and even deaths might become in such a scenario. Our God remains greater than all our deepest fears.
Does this mean Christians will not suffer or face death for what they do and what they believe? Of course not! Christians have been martyred since the beginning of the church, and the book of Revelation makes it clear enough that the slaughter will continue until Christ finally returns to set all things right and make all things new. Meanwhile, we wait and watch and pray, but we do not fear, for even in the darkest night and deepest valley our God is still with us (Psalm 23:4; Isaiah 41:10).
In saying this, I am not minimizing or making light of the deep tragedy that is the growing strength and brutality of ISIS or Boko Haram or Al-Quaeda or Al-Shabaab or the Taliban. The demonic danger is real enough, and we have reason to be urgently concerned for the safety and welfare, not only of our Christian brothers and sisters, but for all human beings who stand in the path of a shamelessly wicked movement killing so ruthlessly in the name of God. But the terror that might seize us must be tempered by a faith that fills us with the hope that our God is so much wiser and greater than the evil machinations of our modern age. In the end, if we live, we live with Jesus. If we suffer, we suffer with Jesus. If we die, we go to be with Jesus.
And we fool ourselves if we think we understand the end from the beginning and how everything happening in our world today is finally going to be resolved. As finite and sinful beings, we understand very little about the purposes and plans of a holy God who exists beyond dimensions of time and space. Why fear when we know so little of the future and misunderstand or forget so much of the past?
Psalm 2:4 reminds us that God has been laughing at the pride of the godless since the beginning of time. He will settle these times—as He has all other times—according to His higher wisdom and impeccable time-frame. He always has been, He remains, and He always will be the one, the only, sovereign Lord of all.