Distress and Stressful Times

I don’t think anyone would argue that that we are living in a time of distress. In fact, it has mostly been a distressing couple of years. We expect distress, difficult times and stressful times. Jesus even told us in John 16:33 that we will have suffering in this world. It certainly feels like our nation and our world is caught in a downward spiral with a very short fuse leading to a powder keg ready to explode. Packed up tight inside that powder key are deteriorating moral values, escalating divorce rates, abortion, pornography, addictions, abuse, violence, terrorist threats and attacks, drive-by shootings, homosexuality, selfishness, greed, racial tensions, a pandemic, economic tensions…and its election year.

Something’s Got to Change

Most of us would agree that something has got to change. The disciples were in a situation where they needed for something to change and quickly or they would die. Out in a boat, a storm came up and it was tossing the boat around enough that these seasoned fishermen were not just distressed – they were afraid. I sometimes wonder how long they stayed in the stormed tossed seas experiencing distress and fear before they remembered that Jesus – the creator of the world – the son of God was in the boat with them. Eventually they must have remembered because they went looking for him and found him — asleep.

I’m thinking that regardless of how scary or bad the storm was if Jesus was in the boat, that was probably the safest place to be. But they wake Him up and say, “Lord! Save us! Don’t you care what’s happening to us? We’re about to die in this storm.” I can almost see Jesus shaking his head because they just don’t get it. So He gets up and looks out at the storm and looks back at his disciples. To the disciples He said, “Oh ye of little faith, why are you afraid?” Then he looks back at the storm and He rebukes the wind and the waves and instantly there was peace. The disciples responded with both awe and fear, saying, “What kind of man is this? Even the wind and the sea obey Him!”

Our Distress Obeys and Bows down to the King of Kings.

My friend, all those things in our “storm” that cause us to experience distress – they all obey and bow down to the King of kings, too. COVID is not more powerful than God. The racial division we are experiencing is not more powerful than God. He can use them as judgment or he can use them as a “wake up call” to bring us back to Him. He can also use them to destroy us completely. But He can also say, “Enough! Peace!” And we will know peace once again. But I believe that before there is peace, mankind’s hearts will need to repent and turn back to God.

Noah knew distress

In Matthew 24:37 Jesus told us, “As the days of Noah were, so the coming of the Son of Man will be.” What were the days of Noah like? I’m glad you asked! Genesis 6:5 tells us what the world was like in Noah’s day that caused God to flood the earth, wiping out all of creation except for those in the ark. “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”

Do you think God could say the same about our world today? Our value systems have been corrupted and Satan has taken full advantage of technology to destroy morals, values, and families. He’s used modern technology as his arsenal against us to teach violence and breed disunity. The result: Our minds have become a polluted cesspool of little more than thoughts and imaginations that are continually evil. Yes! Our world is in a constant state of turmoil and distress because of sin.

Ruth Graham Lotz once said, “If God doesn’t judge America, He will need to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah!” I’d like to extend that and say that if God doesn’t judge the world, He will need to apologize to everyone that died in the flood of Noah’s day.

Ruth Graham Lotz once said, “If God doesn’t judge America, He will need to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah!” I’d like to extend that and say that if God doesn’t judge the world, He will need to apologize to everyone lost in the flood.

The People of Noah’s Day were living life as “Business as usual.”

It is interesting the Jesus pointed out that the people of Noah’s day were “eating, drinking, marrying and giving in marriage.” Jesus wasn’t per say saying these were the reasons the flood occurred, but that they were living life as “business as usual.” They were oblivious that judgement was coming. In fact, they ridiculed Noah as he built the ark. They had no idea that “business as usual” was about to come to an end and “normal” would begin again with Noah and his sons. It was only when the first drop of rain fell from the sky that they realized they were in trouble.

Is our Distress God’s Judgement?

I am convinced that people today fail to realize just how ripe our world is for God’s judgement. Could COVID-19 be the start of that? We are not going to debate that, but it could certainly be a possibility. And while we certainly need to follow our government’s instructions to try to end the pandemic, if this is God’s judgement it will end when He says it will end – and that may very well depend on the people of God humbling themselves, praying, seeking God’s face, and repenting of their complacency in their spiritual growth and in spreading the gospel.

In fact, there will be some who read this, roll their eyes, and laugh because while people will acknowledge the existence of God, they live as if He doesn’t exist. They flaunt His grace in front of His face and have no fear of a holy and righteous God. But, folks, God’s not dead. He’s still on His throne. And I’m sure He has notice that our world is just as bad as the days of Noah – if not worse.

People fail to realize just how ripe our world is for God’s judgement. In fact, many will say God exists, but they live as if He doesn’t. There is no fear of a holy, righteous God. But God is not dead. He’s still on His throne. He has notice that our world is just as bad as the days of Noah – if not worse.

King David experienced distress

David also knew distress. After being anointed by Samuel to be the next king because God rejected Saul as king, Saul was still on the throne. He didn’t say, “Well, my time is up. Time for the next king.” No he became jealous of David, hunted him down and tried to kill him – multiple times. Psalm 18 reflects David’s praise following all of his enemies being defeated. He says in verse 6, “I called to the Lord in my distress, and I cried to my God for help. From His temple He heard my voice, and my cry to Him reached His ears.”

We need to call out to God in our distress

We too can call to the Lord in our distress. In fact, we NEED to call out to God. He is our only hope and help. David wrote in Psalm 121, “Where will my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” There is no other place to go for help for what distresses our world, but God. Why? Because the source of our distress is sin and the source of sin is Satan. The battle is a spiritual one and the only way to fight spiritual battles is on our knees.

God’s conditions to Him hearing our cries of distress

David also said in Psalm 18:6 that God heard His cry. 2 Chronicles 7:14 tells us that if we want to see our land healed, there are conditions we must meet for God to hear us and forgive us. This verse says, “If my people who are called by my name, [that’s us, Christians!] will humble themselves, pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, forgive their sin and heal their land.”

What does our world need?

So what does our world need? We need to cry out to God, but from a humble heart that is seeking His presence as a deer longs for water in a hot, dry desert. We need to cry out to God with a repentant heart that we have become complacent in the things of God – in our love and devotion to Him, in our time in His Word and prayer, in our view of the Holy Spirit, in our view of God, in spreading the gospel to the lost, and in living a God-honoring lifestyle. And we need to cry out to God through fasting as we intercede on behalf of our nation for God to forgive our national sin of turning away from Him.

Instead of the homosexual society boldly “coming out of the closet” we need Godly parents who will go into the prayer closet and pray for their children. We need parents who will pray for our broken school system. We need neighborhoods coming together to pray for their communities, abortion clinics to close, and to put prayer back in school. America needs godly men and women filling our government and political offices. And we need for the Holy Spirit to open the eyes of God’s people and burden them for the state of our nation and our world.

We need a spiritual revival to sweep across our land. Without it, judgement IS coming just as it did for the people in Noah’s day. It won’t be by flood, because God promised to never destroy the entire earth by a flood again. But it doesn’t say anything about destroying it via another method. COVID could certainly be an option, should God use this disease as a judgement on our world.

Cry out to God

As we face the conditions of the world today, let us cry out to God and ask Him to draw our hearts to Him. Let us pray–as God’s people–to have a real heart and concern for our families and for our nation–for a spiritual revival in our land. As we see the deteriorating condition of the world around us, it should be a wake-up call for us to live godly, righteous, holy lives, placing our minds, hearts and priorities on eternal values.

God’s promises

We don’t know what the rest of this year may hold for us–joys, sorrows, victories or defeats. But we do know that the Lord has promised to be with us, and He’s promised to help us. In the second half of John 16:33 Jesus said, “Be courageous! I have conquered the world.” He has promised to guide us. And the Psalmist reminds us in Psalm 46:1-3: “God is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble. Therefore we will not be afraid, though the earth trembles and the mountains topple into the depths of the seas, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with its turmoil” we do not need to fear. So with this reminder, let us commit our ways to Him, trusting that He will bring to pass His perfect will in our lives.

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