At the end of each month this year, I am writing a ‘thought for the month’. This one is August’s. You will find the others here.


Do you remember where you were when 9/11 happened, twenty years ago? I do.

I had just moved to a new city, to start a new job, in a new sector. I had only been in the job for a week and a day when 9/11 happened. It was a Tuesday, and I was in an induction meeting, when one of my new colleagues, an American by birth, came running down the corridor, yelling at the top of her voice.

“The World Trade Centre’s on fire!” she screamed, “A plane just flew into it!”

We crowded around the television in the office’s only communal room, watching the horror unfold on the screen in front of us. In a state of shock, we became acutely aware that we were witnessing a defining moment in history. The world as we knew it had changed.

One of the many things that followed 9/11 was the pronouncement of the War on Terror, the invasion of Afghanistan, and the subsequent involvement, and deaths, of many Western troops.

Twenty years on, and the US President’s decision to leave Afghanistan has had devastating consequences. But it’s not just the trauma and chaos unfolding there that’s been breaking my heart in recent weeks …


As I look around the world, applying a big picture perspective, I can see so much turmoil.

It’s the devastation of the earthquake and tropical storm that have hit Haiti, already reeling from their president being assassinated. Ditto the latter in Chad. It’s the senseless slaughter of thousands of Christians, and the burning to the ground of hundreds of churches, at the hands of extremists in northern Nigeria. It’s the fresh outbreak of Ebola in Ivory Coast. It’s the conflict-induced famine in the border region between Ethiopia and Eritrea. It’s the imminent likelihood of this being repeated in Yemen. It’s the fuel crisis explosion in Lebanon. It’s the brutal ongoing crackdown against civilians, by the security forces, in Myanmar. It’s the continued escalation in Covid cases in India, Nepal and Brazil. It’s the refugees trying to settle in strange lands, after escaping Venezuela and Syria. It’s the unpredictable wildfires reaping havoc in Greece and Turkey, Australia and the west coast of the USA. It’s the aftermath of flash flooding in India and Pakistan, but also in Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland. 

It’s all this and more. 

These are enormous issues, facing entire nations – and they seem to be emerging thick and fast, with ever increasing rapidity. 

So this month, I’ve been reminding myself of the words of Jesus in Luke 21:8-28: ” … When you hear of wars and uprisings, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away … Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven … People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken … “

Pause a moment and reflect on this list: 

Wars. Uprisings. Earthquakes. Famines. Pestilences. Fearful events. Signs from heaven. Persecution. Betrayal. Fear. Terror. Apprehension. Shaking. 

All these things are happening. Here and now. In the world of the 21st Century.

Yet Jesus knew they would come, and he told us about them ahead of time, so that we might get ready: “When you hear”, he says – not, “If you hear”. More than that, “When you hear,” he says, “do not be frightened.” Why? Because he knew our natural instinct would be to be frightened, and so he reassures us: “These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.”

In other words, and this is my precis: “Don’t be surprised when you see these things taking place. They are warning signs, so take heed. But do not be frightened, because God is in control. One day soon, Jesus will come back.”

We don’t often think about Jesus’ return but, with every passing day, it gets a little bit nearer – and it is the certainty of Jesus’ second coming that gives Christians hope.

When 9/11 happened, people the world over were terrified, the War on Terror was launched, and terror seemed to dispel all sense of hope.

But hope is what we need when, in human terms, the outlook for the world is bleak. “Because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us.” (Romans 5:3-5)

So let’s remind ourselves that Jesus is coming back; that these things must happen before that day comes; and that we are not to be frightened, because Jesus’ return gives us hope.


When you listen to the news, how do you feel?
If you feel frightened, how do Jesus’ words challenge and change your perspective?

And when was the last time you thought about Jesus’ second coming?
If he returns tomorrow, are you ready?

As ever, constructive thoughts would be welcomed in the comments!

Image by WikiImages from Pixabay 



  1. Thank you once again for an inspiring, reassuring and thought provoking piece of writing. It is so important for us to be reminded of these things. As you say, it is so easy to go with what is being presented to us of a world gone mad and be frightened. What joy to know that Jesus is coming back at some point and that we have the eternal hope of life with Him. Thank you.

    • Joanna Watson Reply

      Thanks Janet! I’m so glad to read that this ‘thought for the month’ has been a helpful reminder to you about the reasons for not being frightened.

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