Don’t Be Alarmed


Wars have come and will come again. Persecution has come and will come again. What would you say if you were charged with encouraging God’s people as a world-shaping event was taking place?

What would you say if you were charged with encouraging God’s people as a world-shaping event was taking shape? Donald Grey Barnhouse stood in an Irish pulpit on a Sunday morning in 1939 as Neville Chamberlain, Prime Minister of Great Britain, announced Britain would declare war against Hitler’s Nazi Germany. The people in that the church building needed to hear a word that would bring powerful hope and deep courage.

Barnhouse had been at the beach in Normandy on a quick holiday with his family earlier in the week. To reach a preaching engagement in Belfast, Ireland he rode by train from Normandy to London and then on to Ireland where a ship carried him to Belfast. Along the way he saw frantic and teary-eyed families saying goodbye to husbands, fathers and sons as the French and the British were calling men to report for war. The weight of what was coming was easily observable as they stood on the brink of World War II. Hitler spread this “agonizing terror” as a black veil being spread across Europe.

It is recorded as Barnhouse arrived at the church on Sunday, September 3, 1939, he we greeted by a terrified pastor that said over and over, ““Thank God, I do not have to preach as the church will be full of lads who will never come back. I pray God will give you something for them.”

God had given him something to say for this fear-filled morning.

His text was based in Matthew 24 with a specific look at Matthew 24:6 where Jesus said, “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet.”

James Montgomery Boice says Barnhouse speaks of this verse by saying, “These words are either the words of a madman or they are the words of God.” He shook his fist toward heaven and cried, “God, unless Jesus Christ is God, these words are the most horrible that could be spoken to men who have hearts that can weep and bowels that can be gripped by human suffering. Men are dying. Do not be alarmed? Children are crying in their misery with no beloved face in sight. Do not be alarmed? How can Jesus Christ say such a thing?”

But then came the answer. ‘Jesus Christ is God. Jesus is the Lord of history. He is the God of detailed circumstance. Nothing has ever happened that has not flowed in the channel that God has dug for it. There have never been any events that have flamed up in spite of God to leave him astonished or confused. The sin of man has reduced the world to an arena of passion and fury. Men tear at each other’s throats. Yet in the midst of the history of which Jesus Christ is Lord, each individual who has believed in him as the Savior will know the power of his resurrection and will learn that events, however terrible, cannot separate us from the love of God.”

Wars have come and will come again. Persecution has come and will come again. The Christian’s only hope to stand in the midst of these sorrows is to cling to the hope and the power of the greater King – King Jesus.

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