“No situation is beyond God’s control.” –Billy Graham
This summer is different.
Lighthearted chitchat around the poolside or picnic table has given way to serious discussions. The heaviness of recent events has left a dark cloud looming over the world, as people wonder not if, but when the next tragedy will occur.
Has the heaviness of racially charged shootings and terrorist attacks around the world consumed your thoughts? Has it made you anxious or depressed? Even paralyzed you with fear?
This year will mark the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Just three days after that awful tragedy, Billy Graham shared these words with the nation: “We’ve seen so much that brings tears to our eyes and makes us all feel a sense of anger. But God can be trusted, even when life seems at its darkest.”
Even those who know and trust God can be shaken by world events. As people share their thoughts about the latest string of horrific incidents on social media, they’re showing a range of emotions.
Sheri Daily shared on the BGEA Facebook page: “I feel very unsettled and not safe. The thought of terrorism affecting my family seems actually like something that could happen, which is so crazy.”
Another Facebook follower, Tara, commented she feels “disheartened that people have become so callous about each other’s feelings and the value of every person’s life.”
Grieving for a Lost World
God tells us in His Word to “weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15).
It’s OK to allow yourself to grieve the loss that seems to dominate the news headlines. Many of the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplains, who are trained to offer hope and comfort in times of crisis, have talked about crying along with those who are mourning. It’s a natural response, and it’s an expression of compassion.
The shortest verse in the Bible is found in John 11:35: “Jesus wept.” He was weeping over the death of a friend, and it caused the people around to say, “See how he loved him!” (John 11:36). Followers of Jesus can demonstrate His love when they express sincere sorrow.
Rebecca Zehner shared, “I broke into tears when the news of the shootings in Louisiana broke. I felt like it was one thing right after another.” She added, “Yes, I read the book and I know how it ends. Praise God. But, I am also a human who has suffered losses in my life and it pains me to see the suffering of others.”
>> “We’ve cried with the officers, we’ve cried with the families.” Read how chaplains are ministering in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Anger, Frustration, and Confusion
When evil happens, anger can surface quickly.
“I feel rage and hate,” said Amy Zwirko. “I know I am not supposed to as a Christian. I am not supposed to give in to hate and anger.”
Others are confused by people’s actions.
“Everyone keeps saying ‘Peace,’ but then they cheer on violence, or adopt such violent, hateful speech that it is difficult to believe they want peace at all,” Elizabeth McQuinn shared.
Some years ago, Billy Graham said, “Only God can break down the national and racial barriers that divide men today. Only God can supply that love that we must have for our fellowman. We will never build brotherhood of man upon earth until we are believers in Christ Jesus.”
Ministry Through the Eyes of Christ
With the recent wave of tragic incidents so close together, the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team has sent chaplains around the country and around the globe.
So far this summer, crisis-trained chaplains have responded to:
- devastating floods in West Virginia and Texas
- a mass shooting at an Orlando nightclub
- the killings of three police officers in Dallas
- a mass killing in Nice, France
- civil unrest following an officer-involved shooting death in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
- the shooting deaths of three Baton Rouge police officers
It doesn’t help that many tragedies are recorded with cell phones or even transmitted live, as in the recent shooting deaths of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota.
Watching these graphic images on TV and social media can lead to a downward spiral into depression.
While it is important to stay informed about world news, God’s Word says we should guard our hearts and our eyes. God wants us to focus on His promises, not the darkness of the world.
The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.”—Matthew 6:22
Pray Without Ceasing
The turmoil seen throughout the world has led many Christians to cry out to God in prayer.
Franklin Graham has been going from state to state, leading Americans in prayer for the nation. He also recently led tens of thousands in prayer via Facebook Live and plans to do it again on July 25.
“We are in desperate need of Divine intervention,” Franklin has shared on his Facebook page.
Many believers seem to be in agreement.
Tamera Smith said, “With all the pain, I feel we need to draw closer to Christ more than ever. I find we just need to shut the imagery off. We need to replace the bombardment of fear that constant coverage gives us with solitude. I find myself in need of constant prayer and communication with the Holy Spirit.”
God’s Word tells us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6).
Many people have commented on social media that they believe ever-increasing natural disasters and recent events are clear indicators of Bible prophecies playing out in their lifetime.
William Hutchens writes, “No fear! Exciting to see our great God and Savior fulfilling His Word. Looking up knowing our redemption draws near.”
This belief led many to share their sense of urgency to pray and share the Gospel—to take as many people to heaven with them as they can.
Bonnie Turberville is “praying for the lost to come to Jesus before it is too late. … People live as if right has become wrong and wrong has become right.”
Hope in Jesus Christ
Billy Graham said, “Faith points us beyond our problems to the hope we have in Christ.”
That hope has prompted some to use this time in history to talk to their families about Jesus’ return.
“It’s actually been a wonderful opportunity to talk with our grandchildren about Revelation and Christ’s return,” wrote Kathy Thomas. “We’ve had some great conversations. But they all seem to start with, ‘I’m kind of scared about what’s going on in the world.'”
God’s Word reminds us that “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love.”—Zephaniah 3:17
Throughout his 50-state Decision America Tour, Franklin Graham has not missed an opportunity to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the thousands of people who have attended.
“I’ve got a question I want to ask you,” Franklin has asked in one city after another. “Do you know Jesus Christ as your Savior?”
“The entire human race is under a death sentence from Almighty God because we have sinned against Him,” Franklin Graham recently shared to the crowd in Juneau, Alaska. “But yet … the Bible says that ‘God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but should have everlasting life.’ God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, from heaven to this earth on a rescue mission.”
We may live in uncertain times, but God’s love is certain and unchanging. Those who believe in Him always have hope, even when it seems the world is falling apart.