The Return of Fear and Anxiety

For as long as I can remember, I have struggled with fear and anxiety over the end times.  As a child and throughout most of my adult life, I was taught that the church will be raptured and not be a any part of the tribulation.  So, when studying Revelation in different studies and listening to sermons on end time events, my thoughts were "glad I am not going to be here for this," but really didn't think much of how it applies to me other than I need to witness more to those around me. 

I am a visual person so images that I see can really stick with me.  I remember watching a video series on the tribulation when I was in elementary school at church.  It has haunted me for years...scenes of a woman being chased down by a helicopter in a forest, captured, and then taken to a chamber where she was in line with countless others where they were all going to be killed if they didn't denounce Christ.  It's amazing what things stick with you from childhood that can haunt you later. 

My thoughts on this subject were challenged about three years ago by one of my dear friend, Jamie Sullivan, who doesn't believe the church will be raptured before the tribulation.  She questioned me on my beliefs.  I really couldn't back up my beliefs with scripture other than the main argument for this theory in Luke 17:34-35, "I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed. One will be taken and the other left. There will be two women grinding together. One will be taken and the other left.”  She had lots to say about why she didn't believe that is what that scripture really means, and I was left perplexed.

I am not a scholar, but after my own studying, I do not believe the church will be raptured out before the tribulation anymore.  I didn't set out to study this particular subject when I came to this conclusion either, because for a while, I just didn't want to even think of the possibility.  I was doing an inductive study on 1 and 2 Thessalonians and when we were asked to put everything in order chronologically, it just didn't add up to me in my former way of thinking. 

My biggest reason for changing my mind was in a scripture that used to support my other theory.  I didn't really read the passage in context before, which can really mess it all up.  The passage is 1 Thessalonians 4:17, "Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, so we shall always be with the Lord."  I always thought that this is when the church is taken up before the tribulation, but this is actually when Christ returns.  He only returns once.  In my own limited understanding, we won't be taken up to be with the Lord until He returns, so how will the church be raptured pre-tribulation?  It just doesn't make sense to me. 

If this isn't true, then my worst fears could be validated.  Let me just say that I know that fear and anxiety is not of the Lord, and He is in control and will take care of His children.  I just have phases where this grips me, and it is almost paralyzing.  I dream about it and wake up afraid and unable to sleep.  In the fall, in our bible study group, we did Beth Moore's Revelation series and I also did Kay Arthur's Revelation Inductive Study along with it.  During that time, I had a complete peace about the whole thing, even looking at it from a different perspective than I have in years past.  However, over the last few weeks, that peace has vanished, leaving me with the old fear and anxiety that I once had. 

Part of it is from attending Wanda Newby's class on Egypt in Prophesy two-part series.  Back in December, I studied Isaiah and Egypt was the main focus in many chapters.  I didn't really understand it all (and still don't fully), but she explained how some of the recent events could be fulfillment of prophecy.  She lead us to Ezekiel 29:1-16 to prophecy that has yet to be fulfilled.  In verses 3 and 9, it talks of a river.  Some translations put the Nile in here, but she said that it is a wrong translation.  The Hebrew word is talking about a canal or shaft, which can be man made.  She said that this could be referring to the Suez Canal because in the scriptures, the Egypitan leader says he owns it, the Egyptial leader says he made it, and it appears to be a source of controversy with Israel. 

There were lots of other interesting details that she shared, and I won't write them all.  Another thing she did was compare the biblical Anti-Chist to the Islamic Anti-Christ.  It was a very scary comparison.  Obviously, we don't know the time He will return for certain, we are called to watch and not just stick our heads in the sand.  She also lead us to 1 Thessalonians 5:2-7.  Many often read verse 2 and stop..."for you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night."  If we keep reading, we know that He will come and the ones who will be caught off guard are not believers, but unbelievers. "While they say peace 'Peace and safety' (talking about government leaders) then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape.  But you, brethren (talking to believers), are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day.  We are not of night nor darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be ALERT AND SOBER."

My biggest fears aren't necessarily for myself, but for my children.  Jesus promised persecution would come, and I feel that it is fast approaching, maybe sooner than we think.  We have had the luxury in this country to be sheltered from having to make sacrificial stances for Christ in ways so many others around the world have been forced to do.  One thing in the Beth Moore Revelation series that stuck with me on this subject was Christ is returning for His bride, a pure and spotless bride, not bridezilla.  Persecution will purify the church and weed out those who aren't true members.

One of my favorite authors is Francine Rivers.  She has a way of making her characters so real that you feel the need to pray for them:)  One of my favorites is the Mark of the Lion series,
which i STRONGLY reccommend.  Don't be intimidated by their size because once you get through the first fifty pages or so, you will not be able to put it down.  In fact, at the end of the first book, it totally leaves you hanging, and once I finished it, I RAN upstairs to get the other one.  I was warned to have the second book before I finished the first one.  Anyway, one of the characters really made an impact on me.  Her name was Hadassah.  She was an amazing character and at the end of the first book, she was faced with her worst fear.  When she had to endure it, and came through the ordeal, she lived the rest of her life with no fear because her worst one had already been realized. 

I know that even if I do have to endure the tribulation, God will provide in my time of need.  I don't know why I can't get past this.  I am probably the only one who struggles with this because I hear no one else talking about anxiety on this issue.  Anyway, this should motivate me to keep studying, sharing the gospel, and training up my children in the way that they should go...and above all, be prepared, not caught unaware and off guard.  I also need to write this verse on my heart..

The LORD is my light and my salvation—
   whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life—
   of whom shall I be afraid?
Psalm 27:1

1 comment:

  1. I know this was written a while ago but I just wanted to let you know that you're not the only one. I struggle with the same thoughts (especially when it comes to thinking about my children and what may be ahead). I came to your blog through your Etsy site. I have yet to do a study on Revelation but know that I should. When thinking about the tribulation from my own strength, I completely crumble. I need to trust that the strength I may need will be of the Lord and not my own, same for my children. I must admit that sometimes I've thought, "Oh why did I bring children into this!!" But I must remind myself of the incredible privilege it is to know Christ. If my children trust the Lord with their lives and enter into eternity with Him, then bringing them into the world was more than worth any fears I have of myself or them going through here on earth. My mind is still very much steeped in the fears of the flesh, but I am seeking every day to yield it back to Christ.