We are living in an age of misinformation, confusion and fear inspired by the father of lies, Satan the devil. Another aspect of his malicious character is creating division among people. Race, ethnicity, political perspectives and religious beliefs have often been divisive factors used by him to turn one group against another. And now we see animosity increasing, just as the Bible warned of the last days (2 Timothy 3:1-5).
Today, during this period of the pandemic and cultural upheaval, we see division everywhere. There’s growing anger and conflict. Murders are on the rise, as are mass shootings, suicide, domestic violence and other violations of God’s laws, called sin.
The whole world is experiencing an upsurge of pain and suffering. Our lives have been significantly impacted by current events. Some have died from the pandemic, lost loved ones or lost jobs, housing or resources once readily available. Lifestyles have been negatively impacted, not to mention how relationships have been altered by distancing and isolation.
As a result, many are grieving these losses and experiencing depression, anger, projection of blame, and denial as to the real causes of these events. Anxiety, fear and feelings of uncertainty are abounding. How do we deal with such crisis?
Look to our primary allies in coping with anxiety
The first and most important aspect of what we can do is to strengthen our relationship with our foremost allies, God the Father and Jesus Christ. Christ is our counselor, our friend, our confidant, our encourager and comforter. God the Father is a perfect, all-loving father. These all-powerful Beings will fight our battles for us and see us through the most trying circumstances. They will strengthen us through Their Word, the Holy Bible, and by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Like any meaningful relationship, we must spend time with Them to build the relationship. Prayer is our communication to God. And the Bible is the primary way God speaks to us. Fasting intensifies our closeness to God, and meditating on His Word helps us gain a deeper understanding of what He is communicating to us. (Download or request our free study guide Tools for Spiritual Growth to learn more.)
God’s Word has much to say on coping with anxiety and worry.
How should a person manage anxiety? Philippians 4:6-8 gives us a perfect outline, telling us:
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”
If we break this down, these are the key points: We humbly pray to our Heavenly Father and make our requests known, and we give thanks for the things He and His Son have blessed us with. Knowing we have given our concerns and worries to God (see also 1 Peter 5:7), and knowing God will do what is in our best interest, will give us peace of mind. And lastly, our minds need to be focused on the positive things God has shared with us through His Word and the beauty of His creation and the hope that lies ahead.
Our negative thoughts are often what produce in us anxious feelings and fears. Change your thinking and follow these guidelines and anxiety will be greatly reduced in your life.
Strive to be peacemakers
Next, I would like to share with you some proactive strategies that will enhance the quality of your life and the life of others. The first of these is being a peacemaker in a world of conflict and contention. Jesus Christ in His Sermon on the Mount reminds us: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God” (Matthew 5:9). The apostle Paul instructs us, “Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another” (Romans 14:19).
The world around us is rife with conflicting opinions and controversies. And there is a great deal of misinformation we ourselves may be susceptible to. We need not engage in every argument. Of course we should take a stand against what we see as destructive of people’s lives. Yet not every matter is clear. Where it is, we may need to speak out, yet we should still be careful in what we say. What is very clear is that Satan is hard at work trying to cause division in the world, in our country, church and families.
So let’s look at how to pursue peace. Peace always has as one of its main tenets the well-being of others and oneself. Peace is the fruit sown by the Holy Spirit and is achieved through righteous discipline. The phrase “holding your peace” relates to the idea that you often must choose not to react to someone who may aggravate you or be verbally aggressive with you. It often takes self-discipline to not react in kind or overly emotionally.
Being a peacemaker is an active and ongoing process. James 3:18 states, “Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” If we are to sow righteousness in the world, it must be done in a peaceful manner, not in contention, hostility or conflict. Conflict is simply having differences in opinion, goals, needs and desires. Contention, on the other hand, is disagreement plus a wrathful spirit or quarrelsome method.
While there is much to be righteously indignant or justly angry about, as God is, we must not let that consume and control us (Ephesians 4:26-27). “He who is slow to anger allays contention” (Proverbs 15:18; compare 14:29; James 1:19).
Again, we are to be sowing righteousness in our relationships with others, including our families, the church, our neighbors and our community. Christ stated in Matthew 5:44-45: “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust” (compare 1 Peter 3:8-9).
Of course, Jesus also noted that conflict is sometimes unavoidable, stating that He did not come to bring peace but a sword to set even families against one another, figuratively speaking (Matthew 10:34-37). The truth itself is often divisive, but as Paul said, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18).
Being a peacemaker means taking the initiative to restore broken or damaged relationships, even when the major rupture lies with the other person. This often requires an act of humility. Being humble puts you in the right frame of heart when trying to restore broken relationships. You can diffuse arguments and break down barriers of defensiveness when you are humble. Paul describes this attitude in Philippians 2:3: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves” (New International Version, 1984).
Humility also recognizes that you need God’s help in resolving past hurts and brokenness. In Matthew 11:29, Christ states, “I am gentle and humble in heart” (NIV). That’s the approach we must also have.
Comfort and encourage one another
Another proactive strategy is comforting and encouraging others. In a world that’s becoming increasing violent under Satan’s dark influence, the world needs beacons of light. It needs peacemakers to show the world a better approach to resolving conflicts, contentions and hostilities.
It behooves us to stand for what’s ultimately important amid the frenzy of worldly perspectives around us. When we are told not to be of the world, it also means not to allow worldly opinions and attitudes to shape our outlook. Rather, we must maintain a biblical perspective. Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, gave us these words to comfort and guide us in this war-torn world: “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).
While God the Father and Christ have given us many words of comfort and encouragement in the Bible, They have also given us the great capacity to share that with others. Passages like 1 Thessalonians 5:11 remind us how important all of us are to one another in troubled times: “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (NIV).
People need the comfort of knowing that others care and will be there in time of need. Reaching out to people who are lonely and isolated, the elderly and any others who are in some way disadvantaged can help them endure these troubled times. Volunteer work has filled the gap for many who have limited resources. It benefits both the giver and the receiver and creates bonds between them both.
Those who are parents have the special responsibility of guiding their children through trying circumstances.
One final thought in how to cope in troubled times is to never lose sight of the vision God has given us of His Kingdom to come. Even when things get worse, as they will at some point, we must keep in the forefront of our minds and in our hearts the great destiny God has planned for His beloved children.
It is eloquently expressed in Revelation 21:1-4: “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.’”
It is the wonderful vision of the future that will help us endure the pains of the present—just as it helped Jesus endure His crucifixion (Hebrews 12:2). Always remember that “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18; compare 2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
And “may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 5:10-11).
This is the truth that will see us through all troubles. Never let it go!
Coping With Anger
Here are some basic strategies to handle anger:
• Exercise can help reduce the emotions related to anger.
• Take time-outs and remove yourself from an emotionally charged situation to allow the emotions to die down so you can think more clearly.
• Be a good listener. Make sure you understand the other person’s perspective and feelings before you react to what you think you’ve heard.
• Pray before entering into a difficult conversation, and be willing to extend grace, mercy and forgiveness, the very things God extends to you.
• Choose your words wisely and do not use harsh or derogatory words.
• Pursue activities that help to reduce your stress level.
The Instigator of Evil and Confusion
We are living in troubled times. But just what is the source of these troubles? If we go back to the beginning of mankind, we can see who the instigator is—the serpent in the Garden of Eden, who encouraged disobedience to God. He is later identified as Satan the devil, who continues to deceive and influence humanity (Revelation 12:9; 1 John 5:19).
Jesus called him the father of lies, telling people who sought to kill Him: “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44). Lies are at the root of troubled times.
God is assuredly not the author of all the confusion we see (1 Corinthians 14:33). Rather, Satan as the deceiver and tempter is to blame—as are all who succumb to his influence.
Why are we seeing an increase in troubles now? Jesus Christ will return to the earth very soon. When that happens, Satan’s rule on earth will be over, and the consequences of his rebellion and the pain and suffering he has caused humanity will be brought to an end.
Revelation 20:1-3 describes one of the events that will occur when Christ returns: “Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished.” Verses 7-10 further relate the ultimate demise of Satan, when his deception and misdirection of humanity will at last cease.
As the end approaches, Satan knows his time is growing shorter. So he is stepping up his efforts—a precursor to his extreme final wrath when he is cast down from a last ditch assault on heaven just a few years before Christ’s return (see Revelation 12:7-12).