“But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.” (1 Peter 4:7, AV)
I’ll be honest with you. What is going on in our world is scary. Throughout history, we have encountered scary times. In the 1950’s and 60’s both the United States and the Soviet Union were building up their nuclear armament. We were in the cold war period. There was a fear that an incident between the two nations could trigger a nuclear holocaust. The phrase” mutually assured destruction” was spoken. In school, we had mandatory nuclear bomb drills where we would hide under our desks or in the hallways. Some people were building bomb-shelters in their backyards. Later, in the 70’s I served in the United States Army during the cold war period and understood that there was a real threat.
Today, many are watching Russia’s attack on the Ukraine and are fearful that this could lead to World War III, a war like no other. On top of this, we see strange patterns of behavior being accepted as the norm. Our country is in the midst of an ideological divide, which has virtually split our country in two. I have deemed this the “Cold Civil War,” as factions fight it out in the political arena. This divide is scary because as Jesus stated, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand” (Matthew 12:25, AV). This division does not bode well for our nation and I do not see it ending.
Moreover, we have just entered a time of economic struggle. Increasing national debt and inflation seems connected to the political decisions regarding fiscal, domestic, and international policies. It seems like the perfect storm of disaster is brewing and we may be caught up in it.
With all of this, people ask, does this mean the end of all things is near? Will the world melt down and civilization end? Well, let me just say this. This fear is not new and the only one who knows the exact time is God Almighty (Matt 24:36). So, let me give you some good news. God is in control! He always has been and always will be in control! For those who believe this will be encouraging, while for others it will not.
So, what do we do in the midst of troubling times? Peter gave his readers some advice. They were undergoing the turmoil of their day, which included trials and persecutions for what they believed. They too were in an ideological battle in their culture. He gives them several points in the midst of this struggle. First, he tells them to be “sober,” sophroneo¸ to be of a sound mind and thus self-controlled (Strong G4993, G4998). Believers need to guard themselves against extreme and irrational responses to the situations around them. While the world is going crazy, we must not follow in suit.
Second and very important, believers need to “watch unto prayer.” This phrase is translated as “sober minded for the sake of your prayers” in the ESV. The word “watch,” nepho, means to be sober, having the idea of refraining from wine (Strong G3525). In other words, believers are not to become incapacitated by fear of the things going on around them. They are to remain calm in demeanor for a purpose of prayer. Friends, prayer is powerful.
Combining these thoughts, we as believers, in these strange, perilous, and fearful times are to remain cool, calm and collected. The reason is that we know that God has all this fully in control. Whatever happens, He has us in the palm of His hand. We are safe and secure. Instead of panicking, we are to do the one thing that we can do to make a difference. We are to pray with confidence to God Almighty.