Human beings have experienced almost 6,000 years of turmoil and troubles. The severity has differed from place to place and there were only short spans of time where it seemed peace and tranquility was possible. A study of history shows that human history has been written in wars, bloodshed, and great natural disasters or plagues. There are some who could say they lived through the best of times—but those few were usually in some isolated place where, for the short span of their years, great traumatic events may not have occurred. In the past 100 years we are somewhat more familiar with, the greatest wars that have ever been fought brought about the deaths of tens of millions, displacement of vast numbers, and an ongoing series of lesser wars that have not ceased.
At the turn of the 19th century, the average lifespan was only about 50 years of age. We experienced such events as the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami which claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, and the damage caused by tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, drought, and fire seems endless. My mother tells of a neighbor family in about 1918 who was hit by disease. Eleven out of twelve children died along with the mother. The father took the remaining child and immigrated to Argentina. In 1945, my own great-grandmother starved to death and my grandmother and one of her daughters fashioned a wooden box and buried her. On my father’s side during the early 1900s, five out of nine children died suddenly and my grandmother was mentally unstable for a full year after that trauma. Humans have endured unbelievable suffering—some more than others.
Knowing this, it gives me great concern when I read what the Bible says is coming. Daniel 12:1 states: “there will be a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation.” Matthew 24:21 states: “then there will be great tribulation such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.” When we think of the slaughters in Rwanda or Cambodia as well as the great impact of diseases like AIDS, it is hard to imagine things getting worse. We remember the ethnic cleansing and the religious animosity that surrounds us and it becomes obvious that this weary old world is only preparing for the next round of troubles. It pains us to imagine that whenever the final round comes, it will be much worse than anything this earth has ever seen.
We have developed the ability to annihilate all life from this earth through the chemical and biological “advances” we have made, including the stockpile of horrendous weapons that could unleash devastation that cannot be controlled. The “little” problem caused by the Chernobyl atomic leak is still felt today and that was hardly a ripple in the possible troubles we humans are now able to pose for the world. We are interfering with the natural order of things in the genetic alterations and changes of the plants and animals about us. We are creating vast pools of potential disease pockets through the heavy concentration of everything from the fish farms we are developing to the large feedlots for animals, which we have learned need huge amounts of medical interventions to prevent disease. We have become good at those interventions—but we do not realize the potential dangers they cause. We can spray fields of crops with pesticides that will virtually kill everything on the field and excuse our actions in the effort to produce more and more from the same patch of soil. We are driven by greed and are blind to the consequences. Vast areas of our forests are cut down for lumber, or devastated for the strip-mining of coal, oil, gold, or diamonds. All living creatures are affected by those practices. We have not learned to restore the precious environment we so quickly abuse.
As the population of the world explodes and our inability to govern ourselves and interact peacefully with other nations continues to cause stress, we can see the dangers that are posed. Our advances in medicine, as well as the general education level of the world, have benefited us all so that the death rate due to disease, starvation, and war has slowed down. My mother is now 100 years old and she has 66 direct blood relatives (six children and the rest grandchildren and great-grandchildren) without experiencing a single death of her offspring. This is a dramatic improvement from the generation she came out of. Her mother had twins that died not long after birth and the difficulty of the terrors of both of the world wars to contend with.
Canada has been a safe haven and has been very good to our family. That can be said of other areas of the world as well. However, those areas were far from the conflict in Europe and the Far East. People were in areas where disease was not so prevalent and where they did not travel so much. They were also areas in which the Bible played a noticeable role in dictating lifestyles that led to better health. People were not crowded together in mega-cities in those days and travel was quite limited. There is an evil spirit and influence prevalent in the world and it seems we humans are easy targets for his effort to destroy all our Creator has made. He is God’s adversary and we humans slip into modes of thinking that make his work seem easy (2 Samuel 2:14, 1 Timothy 5:14-15). It seems a weakness we humans have to be intrigued by and to turn after the ways and designs of Satan. That began in the Garden of Eden and has been with us in one form or another ever since (Genesis 3:1-7, Genesis 3:11). Satan’s ways and our own human nature are the road to this great trouble (Romans 8:7).
Many people who are trying to escape the horrors they have seen are finding it more difficult to find a place of refuge. This world is becoming smaller in the sense that very little of the earth is inaccessible to humans. We are able to change things in such a way that we can be comfortable in the frozen north or in the deserts of the world. We can move mountains that hinder us and air travel allows us to go anywhere we wish. It is also obvious that the great controlling powers of this world are driven by our willingness to accept the same attitude of Satan—the adversary of God (2 Timothy 3:1-7). These include greed, self-love, and the pursuit of money, along with the loss of values of decency and respect. There does not seem to be any understanding of what “enough” means and the rich amass their wealth, the powerful add to their power, and the little people of the world are caught up in the struggles.
This destruction is shared between man, Satan, and the un-submitting hearts of all who reject God (1 John 2:16-17). Many cling to the hope that the Creator will intervene. He promises He will intervene, but not until mankind has had its fill of standing against Him and drinking in the attitudes and ways of the influence of Satan.
There is a slender point of hope we read in the book of Jonah. Nineveh was about to experience total destruction. Jonah knew of God’s merciful attitude and genuine hope that people would turn to Him so that His wrath could be rescinded. The Ninevites heeded the warning and God intervened to prevent the disaster He had foretold. God is slow to anger and abundant in loving kindness. When people repent and turn to Him, He is readily found. As this world moves ever nearer to the abyss, there is still a sliver of hope that we will come to our senses and realize the limitation of this precious globe we live on. We have a choice.