Spiritual Rumination by Julia Phillips

“That you be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the ‘Day of Christ’ is at hand.” 2 Thessalonians 2:2.

"Thy Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against God." Psalm 119.

 

Life has a way of throwing us curves at times. When you were taking down the Christmas tree a few months ago I’m sure you weren’t thinking, “Well, it won’t be long and the entire world will be swallowed by a virus and we won’t leave the house and we might even run out of toilet paper.”

I think we could all agree that it is much easier to cope when we are prepared than when we are caught off guard and unsure of which way to turn. This worldwide pandemic was a curve ball. It came out of nowhere, it seems. Read your texts from just ten weeks ago; were you warning people to stock up on toilet paper and Lysol wipes? Were you telling your neighbors, “You are just about ready to lose your job… have a great evening!” 

In Second Thessalonians 2:2, the Apostle Paul wrote to all believers and warned us about events that would occur right before the coming of the Lord. He wanted to prepare His people so these major world events wouldn’t take us off guard and throw us into a state of panic or fear.

Paul said, “That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as this, as that the Day of Christ is at hand.” 2 Thessalonians 2:2.

There will be many who last year might have laughed and quickly shrugged this off. Not any longer. Not now. The Bible says those ones will continue living as they have always lived, saying in their hearts, "Don't worry about it. All things continue as they have since the beginning of time. Chill! Don't be so serious. Nothing is going to happen. People have preached about it being the ‘last days’ for a thousand years. This virus is a hoax. Eat, drink, and be merry my friends. You have nothing to worry about." But thanks be to God, we have been given the Holy Spirit who will lead us and guide us into all truth and give us a "witness" in our spirits when we see the signs of the times.

Notice that Paul told the Thessalonian believers not to be “soon shaken.” The word “soon” is the Greek word “tachus,” which means “quickly, suddenly, or hastily.” The word “shaken” is the Greek word “saleuo,” which means “to shake, to waver, to totter, or to be moved.” The tense used in Greek points to events so dramatic that they could result in “shock” or “alarm.” In fact, the Greek tense strongly suggests a devastating occurrence or a sequence of devastating occurrences so dramatic that they’ll throw most of the world as we know it into a state of shock and great distress. Stock market suffers, men’s hearts fail them for fear. Does that sound familiar?

By using the words “soon shaken,” Paul was urging believers to resist being easily shaken up by events that will occur just prior to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. He was careful to stress, Church, that we must not be “soon shaken in mind.” The Greek word for “mind” is “nous,” which describes “everything in the realm of the intellect, including one’s will, emotions, and ability to think, reason, and decide.” Whoever or whatever controls a person’s mind ultimately has the power to dictate the affairs and outcomes of that person’s life. If fear controls your mind, then even though you may not be aware of it, many of the decisions you make every day, even seemingly inconsequential ones, will be controlled and decided by fear. Fear of anything or everything. Fear takes charge of that person’s life.

Paul was trying to teach us how to keep a spirit of peace, regardless of things that happened in the past, are happening in the present, or that will happen in the future. He was urging us to not allow the events that are coming to “penetrate” our minds or our emotions. That’s not as easy as it sounds.

To make certain we understood what he was trying to say, he was revealing to us the magnitude of the things that were going to occur at that time. “That ye not be soon shaken in mind, or be troubled.” The word “troubled” is the Greek word “throeo,” which indicates “an inward fright that results from a shocking or traumatic event.”

I can’t think of anything in the history of our nation that has shocked us so suddenly as this worldwide pandemic. Not any pandemic, but a virus that is brand new, to which we have no vaccine or known cure. The shock resulting from things like this can be so strong that it could cause a person to be devoured with worry, anxiety, or fear. Listen Church, we need to be the ones who refrain from fear. Our peace, which is really God’s peace in us, should shine like a beacon to those in the world around us. We are to be a lighthouse. A safe place of refuge during these times for many to run and be saved — literally and figuratively. 

Paul also tells us these events will be “on-going” and not just a onetime occurrence. So COVID-19 won’t be our final trial. We know that because he uses the tense in the Greek word that points to “an ongoing state of worry and inward anxiety.” One of my study concordances translates this word “troubled” as being “jumpy and nervous in your mind and heart.” Do you know anyone like that? Maybe you suffer from a near-constant state of jumpiness, anxiety, or worry. Jesus paid the price for you to be free from the torment and control of that sort of miserable existence. “Peace I give to you; not as the world give I unto you.” The world’s idea of peace is a recipe of mental mind exercises and little pills. The peace Jesus offers us each day is free and effective no matter what the circumstances and it’s lasting.

Our faith can actually change our circumstances, not just our reaction to them. Whatever "storm" you may be experiencing in your life today, you can have peace in it while everyone around you is falling to pieces. You may even be led to use the authority given to you by Christ Jesus Himself and speak to that storm or to someone else’s.

We have no idea what types of challenges might be coming down the pipe in the months to come. So many are already tiring of the mandatory social isolating prescribed by the government. It is difficult, to say the least. After enjoying the best economy in history, we awoke to find an economy with the highest unemployment ever. Who could have even imagined mass graves? Not being able to hold your child or parent or spouse’s hand while they were in critical condition or dying? Weddings cancelled, sports over, airlines declaring bankruptcy. Wearing masks to the store and standing six feet away from the closest person? Are you joking? Sounds like a nightmare. Well, it’s real folks. And it is just the beginning. That is why we must follow His Word and hide His Words in our hearts.

We need to listen for that still, small voice as it might say, “Go to the street called Nistler. Go down four roads and turn right. You’ll meet a family named ____. They will show you where the new supplies are.” That might sound far-fetched to you. But it is the Bible. And, again — did you ever think twelve weeks ago you’d be facing this? Paul is telling us to make sure we remain “hidden in Christ,” making Him the most important One in our life, so that we won’t be easily troubled, fearful, or troubled when the trials do happen. He urges us not to allow ourselves to be shaken or moved by anything we see, feel, or hear. We must refuse to allow ourselves to be traumatized by any events in the world however close or far away. We need to read the Bible daily, and in doing so we are “hiding” His word in our hearts, ensuring our peace against “that day” in our lives. 

Colossians 3:15 says, “Let the peace of God rule in your hearts.” That word “rule” is the Greek word “brabeuo,” which actually means “Allow or let God’s peace be the umpire in your heart, the one who decides with finality and calls the shots and makes the decisions in your life,” thus taking responsibility for the outcome. You and I, as believers, need to be full of faith, have a close relationship with Jesus, and be prepared to lead a whole lot of lost and scared souls to the only true place of refuge — God’s arms.

Are you ready? Are you prepared? Let’s hit the ground running saints! Selah.

Ruminate on that.