By Ron Hutchcraft
Lately, the world seems to be continually changing. War. Inflation. Pandemic. Economy. Nuclear. Future uncertainty. As followers of Jesus, how should we respond? How can we be like the men of Issachar, "who understood the times and knew what (they) should do?" (1 Chronicles 12:32) Here are six bold steps to navigate uncertain times.
First, anchor biblically. In our rapidly changing, often discouraging, getting-darker world, we read in Psalms, "I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought Your precepts...I rise before dawn and cry for help. I have put my hope in Your Word" (Psalm 119:45, 147). We are not at the mercy of news, social media or events; we listen to and trust the One who's always working His will.
A great way to start the day is to see how big God is. Isaiah talked of the Sovereign Lord who comes with power and rules with a mighty arm; and tends His flock like a shepherd carrying the lambs in His arms (Isaiah 40:10-11). He is the sovereign ruler and the tender shepherd. Reading that is anchoring biblically. Then we're not swayed by world events and news.
Secondly, praise defiantly. Defiant means boldly resisting. Defy fear, worry, uncertainty, stress! King Jehoshaphat had a vast army coming against Judah and God basically said, "You need to worship, and don't worry" (2 Chronicles 20). So, Jehoshaphat and all the people fell down on their faces and worshiped the Lord. Then they sent the choir on ahead - praising! The Israelite army went into battle praising and God changed everything. Praise defiantly, and it elevates you out of the things that worry and burden your heart.
Third, prioritize eternally. Events in recent years and weeks have hopefully personally led to some eternity thinking. Jesus helps us put this current world against the backdrop of eternity: "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you" (Matthew 6:33). If it isn't going to matter in heaven, it shouldn't matter much here.
Many believers have been distracted and seduced by lesser causes, fighting lesser battles than ones that matter for eternity. Hebrews reads, "Let us throw off the weight that slows us down and the sin that so easily entangles. Let us run with perseverance the race set before us. Looking to Jesus" (Hebrews 12:1).
Keep your eyes on Jesus. Don't be distracted. You cannot run this race unless you are looking at Him. Not to the right or left, but straight ahead. Prioritize eternally and you'll be a lot less upset about earth stuff.
Fourth, pray boldly. In the book of Acts we read how Peter and John were ordered to never speak publicly of Jesus. Instead, they run back to the church to have a prayer meeting, and prayed, "Enable your servants to speak with great boldness" (Acts 4:29). That's bold praying when they've been told not to. After praying, the place they were meeting was shaken and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. Every prayer meeting should be about mountains that need to move, walls that need to come down, Red Seas that need to part, and manna that needs to be provided. Pray the size of your God!
Fifth, serve faithfully. Haggai was a prophet when God's people were supposed to rebuild the temple, but enemy resistance had stopped them. Through His prophets, God was summoning them back to work on the temple, despite the opposition and risks. Haggai delivers from God, "'Be strong, Zerubbabel. Be strong, Joshua. Be strong all you people and work. For I am with you. Do not fear'" (Haggai 2:4-5).
God is essentially saying, "Serve Me faithfully and do your job, in spite of the threats, storm, and darkness." Look at young Timothy about to go through losing Paul, and Paul stresses to "endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist and discharge all the duties of your ministry" (2 Timothy 4:5). Don't let turbulence, a storm, dark clouds or worry slow you down. Instead, serve faithfully, passionately, intentionally, organizing your relationships and living to make a difference.
Finally, live urgently. Paul says, "Make the most of every opportunity" (Ephesians 5:16). There are no days to waste. Too many open doors or hearts may close. Go into your day, looking for opportunities to speak of Jesus, before the windows close. It's not a time for status quo, there is no holding back; no time to waste. We need to live urgently, not strolling through life, Netflix-ing and sports-ing. Nothing wrong with those, but let's live with urgency.
The prophet Isaiah said, "Lift up your eyes to the heavens. Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls each one by name" (Isaiah 40:26). There are 200 billion trillion stars in our universe, and God calls them each by name (Psalm 147:4). In the uncertainty, lift up your eyes to God who calls trillions of stars by name!
These are bold steps to be a bright light in the darkest night, for the days in which we live.