Cheer amid World Fear
Why is there increasing world fear? How can we face the future with cheer?
THE world is living on a diet of fear. The news media, with emphasis on sensationalized crime and catastrophe, daily build up the sense of foreboding. Threats, real and imagined, hang over the heads of the people, whether we view them individually, nationally or internationally. Add to this the dread of a hot atomic war, the breakdown of faith and good morals, the increase of suspicion and intolerance that now characterize human relationships, and you see a world of humans who live and work and play and sleep through a constant nightmare.
By reason of scientific “breakthroughs” mankind has come to learn a little more about the vast reaches of space that surround his global home. Instead of this resulting in greater comfort and satisfaction of mind, the additional information at times serves to render man more fearful, more disturbed about the future, more anxious about its horrendous possibilities. Instead of the sun being just a benign, life-giving agent for man’s blessing, to many it has become a potential menace to all life on this planet as they learn of the mighty flares of energy it shoots out hundreds of thousands of miles into surrounding space, greatly intensifying the constant, mysterious rain of cosmic particles that disrupt earth’s communications, and that are even said to have damaging effects on the human mind. Some scientists forecast a future intensification of solar flares to the point where they are likely to envelop the entire planetary system of our sun and burn everything to a cinder.
Now, too, man has succeeded in sending his space vehicles around and onto the moon, even obtaining remarkable close-up photographs of the lunar surface. The thrill of such scientific achievement, however, is not without widespread feeling of uneasiness, for it is well known that both of the great blocs of nations now confronting each other in cold-war array are planning to be the first to plant a military mission on the moon and use it to scrutinize the installations and movements of the enemy. So the moon is no longer just a gently beaming light for the night sky. It has become a cause for deepening anxiety. And what may yet be discovered, as man turns his attention to nearby planets, is likewise certain to promote the dread feeling of insecurity and uncertainty.
Even the mighty seas that God provided as an undepletable reservoir for the operation of the great cycle of life-giving refreshment described at Isaiah 55:10 have come to be viewed as unpredictable and violent enemies of man. Has he not felt their crushing blows as mighty waves have crashed in far beyond the normal coastlines, lashed into fury by earthquakes and hurricanes? Earth’s population explosion plus the great speedup in communications have brought this threat of the sea into immediate focus. Scientists have pointed out that the level of the oceans needs only to be raised by a few feet and scores of metropolitan areas around the world would be inundated, with tremendous damage to property and loss of life. This, men know, could result from higher tides due to some slight alteration in the relative positions of the moon and our earth. A literal shaking of these heavenly bodies could swiftly produce effects that man would be unable to cope with or control.
WORLD FEAR FORETOLD
Nineteen hundred years ago Christ Jesus foresaw this fear-gripped generation, and pointed to the immediate cause: “There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth anguish of nations, not knowing the way out because of the roaring of the sea and its agitation, while men become faint out of fear and expectation of the things coming upon the inhabited earth; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” (Luke 21:25, 26) Already mental pain and the fainting sense of helplessness have taken hold of mankind as they face a bleak and purposeless future. What the next few years may produce in the way of fearsome developments is a subject the contemplation of which could well push humankind closer to panic. “The sea and its agitation” may yet take on more vital meaning as we move farther into this atomic age and men vainly strive to find the way out of an era of stark fear. The signs in the skies above and the developments on the surface of the earth are such as to terrify men who are without God and without hope.
Not to be overlooked is the far deeper cause for the troubles and fears that afflict this generation, a cause that only God’s Word, the Bible, reveals. Whether men admit it or not they are subject to a baleful, invisible power that has been exerting unprecedented influence over humans particularly since shortly after the year 1914. That year, according to Bible prophecy, marked the end of uninterrupted rule of mankind by godless national or imperial rulerships, as well as the time for Christ’s kingdom in the heavens to go into operation. According to the inspired vision of the apostle John, that year saw a great battle in heaven between the righteous angelic forces under Christ and the wicked demonic forces under Satan the Devil. The result, as described by John, was: “So down the great dragon was hurled, the original serpent, the one called Devil and Satan, who is misleading the entire inhabited earth; he was hurled down to the earth, and his angels were hurled down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven say: ‘ . . . Woe for the earth and the sea, because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time.’”—Rev. 12:9, 10, 12.
No wonder man is unable to allay the fears that dominate his life today! How can he hope to match his wits successfully against those of a cunning, invisible enemy who is bent on turning all mankind against God through pressure of threats and sufferings? (Job 1:9-11) Without God’s help man is completely at the mercy of the “god of this system of things.”
God has not forsaken man, however, even though men have ignored him. He has called attention to the significance of these times of fear in his Word, the Bible. Additionally, he sends forth witnesses throughout the whole earth with a message explaining these fearful conditions of today, and pointing to these very conditions as the evidences that soon now the rule of fear and wickedness will end, making way for a reign of peace and righteousness by Christ’s kingdom. Rulers and peoples of this selfish system of things can see these evidences pointed to by Jehovah’s witnesses, but they do not perceive or understand, for their hearts are loaded down with selfish thoughts and hopes. (Matt. 13:22) So in this sense we must understand Jesus’ forecast: “And then they will see the Son of man coming in a cloud [invisibly] with power and great glory.” (Luke 21:27) They have been told about it, they have seen the evidences with their literal eyes, but they still do not believe. They walk on in anguish and fear.
HOW TO GAIN CHEER
However, you do not need to go on walking with them in the way of death-dealing fear. You can, in fact, enjoy cheer amid this world’s fear. This you can achieve by walking with those to whom Jesus addresses this word of comfort: “But as these things start to occur, raise yourselves erect and lift your heads up, because your deliverance is getting near.” (Luke 21:28) Do you not note that Jehovah’s faithful worshipers, his witnesses, are not depressed by the fears that crush humankind in general? Rather, they are pleasantly and hopefully going about the work of preaching the good news of the Kingdom as the hope for all mankind. Having come to know Jehovah as their God and Christ Jesus as their Leader and Commander, and having dedicated their lives to the loving Creator, they have willingly accepted and applied the counsel from the Holy Scriptures: “The object of their fear you men must not fear, nor must you tremble at it. Jehovah of armies—he is the One whom you should treat as holy, and he should be the object of your fear, and he should be the One causing you to tremble.”—Isa. 8:12, 13.
To God’s servants, then, the swiftly mounting troubles and causes for fear are evidences that soon now their work of proclaiming the Kingdom amid a fear-riddled generation will have been completed, and the time for deliverance from the persecutions and galling restrictions of this world’s rulers will have arrived. No longer do they hang their heads or bow down as though in servitude to the ruler of this system of things who can guarantee only toil, tears, trepidation and the tomb. They know that soon that wicked ruler will be abyssed in deathlike inaction for a thousand years. Their strong hope moves them to greater and greater activity as they boldly proclaim around the whole earth the good news of the victorious kingdom under Christ.
If you will walk with this happy people, you also will be able to shed the suffocating burden of fear. Taking in knowledge of God and of Christ is the first step, for Jesus in prayer declared: “This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.” (John 17:3) You must then conquer this world by separating yourself from it and dedicating your life unconditionally to God for the accomplishment of his will. Thereafter you must strive to carry out that dedication as long as you have life and breath. For your encouragement the Lord Jesus has said: “In the world you will have tribulation, but take courage! I have conquered the world.” (John 16:33) Having himself conquered the world, he stands ready and willing to come to the help of each one who faithfully strives to follow his steps closely. With confidence, therefore, step out and associate with Jehovah’s people and, with them, find cheer amid world fear.