Summary: If we look for signs of Christ's return, we are liable to be deceived. We are to look for the Son and not for the signs.

“[Jesus] said to [His disciples], ‘Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. This will be your opportunity to bear witness. Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives.

“‘But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it, for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. Alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress upon the earth and wrath against this people. They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

“‘And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.’” [1]

It is an axiom of the Faith that current events cast a shadow pointing to prophetic fulfilment. Current events are not necessarily the fulfilment of prophecy, but often they do point to fulfilment of prophecy. The palpable fear gripping so many at the present time likely presage the dark days immediately preceding the Tribulation period. During this present crisis, mental health experts around the world are raising an alarm about what might yet happen. [2] An example of such concern comes from the Red Cross, which called for increased psychological support for health workers and others engaged in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. They are concerned that the world will witness an increase in the number of suicides as result of pressure and isolation. [3]

The concerns about an increase in the rate of suicide appear to be well-founded. One recent report pointed out the tragic reality of what happens when people surrender to fear. The headline, “More People Died From Suicide Than Coronavirus In Tennessee This Week,” [4] emphasised the fear that prevails in this time of uncertainty. In Portland, Oregon, suicide threats or attempts are up forty-one percent from the previous year. These attempts had jumped twenty-three percent in less than ten days. [5] In our own country, we read reports that Winnipeg is witnessing an increase in calls related to mental health. [6] The reports indicates that the Klinic Community Health Crisis Line has seen an increase in calls, mostly related to mental health concerns during this present crisis.

Here are a few other examples of the fears registered about the COVID-19 crisis. One Suicide Crisis Line reported a seventy-five-fold increase in calls during March. Over five hundred calls were fielded during the seven day period ending March 30. [7] A nurse working on the frontlines of the current health crisis committed suicide over fears that she had COVID-19 and had possibly spread the disease. [8] A man in India took his own life because he assumed he had contracted the disease. [9] Another man in India who had been placed under home quarantine took his own life when he tested positive for COVID-19. [10] The finance minister of a German state committed suicide because he feared the impact on the financial centre of Frankfurt. [11]

We who are familiar with the Word of God cannot read such an onslaught of articles expressing such fear without hearing the words of the Master echoing in our ears: “On the earth [there will be] distress of nations in perplexity, …people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world” [LUKE 21:25b-26]. Sincere Christians have asked me if this is possibly a sign of the Lord’s return. The answer is … Maybe! Or, maybe not! In order to answer such questions, let’s look to the words of the Master.

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