Christ described the last days as a time so troubling and frightful, "Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth....Upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity" (Luke 21: 26, 25).
What did Jesus give us to prepare us for these calamities? What waas his antidote to the fear that was going to come?
He gave us the illustration of our Father watching the sparrow, of God numbering the very hairs on our heads. These illustrations become even more meaningful when we consider the context in which Jesus gave them.
He told these illustrations to his twelve disciples, as he sent them out to evangelize the cities and towns of Israel. He had just endowed them with power to cast out demons and heal all manner of sickness and disease. Think of what an exciting moment that had to be for the disciples. They were given power to work miracles and wonders! But then came these fearful warnings from their Master.
"You won't have any money in your pocket. And you won't have a home, not even a roof to sleep under. Instead, you'll be called heretics and devils. You'll be beaten in synagogues, dragged before judges, thrown into prisons [this prophetic word of Jesus graphically describes the present-day, so-called "hate crimes" legislation and Ted Kennedy-sponsored hate speech/crimes bills in Congress, and Human Rights Commissions already operating, activist judges enforcing anti-Christian laws on the books or creating new laws by judicial fiat]. You'll be hated and despised, betrayed and persecuted. You'll have to flee from city to city to avoid being stoned."
Now picture these men wide-eyed as they listen to Jesus. They must have been gripped with fear. I imagine them wondering, "What kind of ministry is this? Is that what the future holds for me? This is the bleakest outlook on life I've ever heard."
Yes, in this very same scene, Jesus told these beloved friends three times: "Fear not!" (Matthew 10: 26, 28, 31).
Dear saint, here is a profound truth we can lay hold of for the most tumultous times. Jesus is saying, "When doubts flood in--when you're at wits' end, and you think no one sees what you're going through--here is how to find rest and assurance.
"Look at the little birds outside your window. And run your fingers through your hair [every hair is numbered by the Lord, he says!]. Then remember what I told you: these small creatures are of immense value to your Father. And your hairs are to remind you that you're of much greater value to him. His eye is always on you. And he who sees and hears your every move is near."
Thgis is how our Father cares for us in hard times. He is aware of every detail of our lives--our family, our house, our finances, our marriage--and he is concerned over each aspect. We are not to fear! He has promised to make a way of escape.