When you hear about wars and riots, don’t be afraid.” (Luke 21:9 CEV).

We live in strange times.

Schools are closed, restaurants are closing, the NFL plays in empty stadiums, large assemblies are forbidden, and we’ve all learned about “social distancing,” which means you stay away from me, and I’ll stay away from you. Some cities are under a “shelter in place” order, which means you stay home round the clock, with only a few exceptions.

Such is life right now.

Jesus Christ had a word for times like these. On the Wednesday before he was crucified, he met with his disciples to prepare them for what was to come. Under the shadow of the temple, he told them what the world would be like after he was gone. In that message, he included these famous words:  When you hear about wars and riots, don’t be afraid” (Luke 21:9 CEV).  The Living Bible offers us this paraphrase:  “When you hear of wars and insurrections beginning, don’t panic.” Those are the words of a madman, or they are the words of the Son of God.

If we panic, it means we have forgotten who runs the universe.

Jesus even said, “These things must happen” (v. 9). The coronavirus outbreak did not surprise God. The unrest in our cities didn’t catch him by surprise. He knew about the election controversy before it happened. The Lord is seated on his throne. He’s not pacing the floor, worried about the future.

Hard times are upon us. They are part of the course of this age. Wars and rumors of wars. Natural disasters, strange viruses. It will only get worse in the days ahead.

But we have the words of Jesus—“Don’t panic.” But who wouldn’t panic? Only those who know that God is in control. When the world seems to be self-destructing, our faith shows itself to be real.

Christmas means God has not left us alone in the world. He came to visit us one dark night 2,000 years ago.

The glory of God shines forth from the manger in Bethlehem.
His glory still shines today.
One day his glory will fill the earth.

For those who believe in Jesus, the best is yet to come.

Christians ought to be the calmest people on earth because we know the Lord, and he holds the future in his hands. There is no panic in heaven. If you spend all your time perusing the latest news, you will lose your perspective. Focus on the Lord, remember his promises, and all will be well.

Sovereign Lord, you are the firm foundation beneath our feet. We trust in you, and we will not be moved. When the kingdoms of the earth crumble to dust, your words will still be true. Amen.

Musical bonus: Johnny Cash performs a live reading called Here Was a Man

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