Stand in the Day of Trouble

When Freud arrived in America to give five lectures at Clark University he is said to have quipped, “We are bringing them the plague.”  He knew of what he was speaking.  He wrote to a colleague referring to his invitation to Clark University saying, “By the way, we could soon be ‘up [expletive] creek’ the minute they come upon the sexual underpinnings of our psychology.”[1]  Writing to another of his colleagues he said that when the sexual implications of our psychology are understood “they will drop us.”  Today Freud would revel in the sexually laden culture of America.

However, since Freud has been so influential here in America I am interested in something else that he said.  In his book, Future of an Illusion Freud writes, “[religion] is comparable to a childhood neurosis.”[2]  What is more, he was optimistic that religion could be overcome by humanity like children overcome other childhood neuroses.  Interestingly, C. S. Lewis expected that someday the state would find it necessary to treat such a disorder.[3] He speculated that the treatment would have to be compulsory and yet not be viewed as a punishment but humanitarian.[4]

Could we imagine such a thing in America?  Some might think it’s ridiculous to even suggest.  But how many of us would have thought that California would want to abandon the idea of equality under the law?  And yet, that is exactly what California is seeking to do.[5] Who would have thought that city leaders would advocate defunding their own police when so many of their constituents want more police presence?  And yet, it’s happening.

So, how shall we live? How shall we live in a world that is becoming irrational and instinctual literally day by day?[6] How shall we live in a culture that has decided to call good evil and evil good?[7] How shall we live in a world that cannot recognize the wisdom of God in the gospel?[8] The answer is as simple as it is straightforward.  We must stand.  That is the answer.  However, for all of its directness it will be immensely difficult to practice.  And the difficulty will only increase with each passing day. 

But what does it mean?  To stand in the Biblical sense of the word means to hold fast to what we believe in the face of opposition. We must be resolute. This also means that due to our convictions there will be things that we must not do and things that we must do.  These things will no doubt put us at odds with the world.  The world hates Christ and so hates those who belong to Him.[9] However, and sadly, we will also find ourselves standing against those who also profess to love Christ.  And they may.  However, some of our brothers and sisters will be gripped by fear in the coming days.  They will need our help and we must call them to lovingly stand with us as we stand in Christ.  Atheist writer and philosopher Ayn Rand understood the power of standing when she wrote this in The Atlas Shrugged,

[there] is no way to disarm any man except through guilt…If there’s not enough guilt in the world, we must create it.  If we teach a man that it’s evil to look at spring flowers and he believes and then does it – we’ll be able to do whatever we please to him.  He won’t defend himself.  He won’t feel he’s worth it.  He won’t fight.  But save us from the man who lives up to his own standards.

What will likely happen when we live up to our standards?  What will happen when we stand?  Eli Wiesel wrote a book called Night.  It was about the Nazi death camps.  One man was able to escape and he made his way back to the Jewish ghettoes.  He warned his fellow Jews.  He described the murders he saw with his own eyes.  He stood firm.  He told them the truth.  His brothers and sisters thought him crazy. Surely the man had lost his mind. Nothing of the sort had happened or would happen to them or anyone else they loved.  And then the train came for them.

Brothers and sisters, it is time now to stand no matter the consequences. Do not believe false prophets who cry “Peace!”  They are weak and still looking to appease the world.  Instead, remember, said Peter, “who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness sake, you will be blessed.  Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who ask you for the reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.  For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.”[10] In other words, stand in the day of trouble.  And when the train comes, you will have set your face like flint toward Christ, you will have a clear conscience before God and you will have done all to stand firm. 

Jeffrey A Stivason (Ph.D. Westminster Theological Seminary) is pastor of Grace Reformed Presbyterian Church in Gibsonia, PA.  He is Professor of New Testament Studies at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh, PA. Jeff is also an online instructor for Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, PA. He is the author of From Inscrutability to Concursus (P&R), he has contributed to The Jonathan Edwards Encyclopedia (Eerdmans) and has published academic articles and book reviews in various journals. Jeff is the Senior Editor of Place for Truth (placefortruth.org) an online magazine for the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. 



[1] Paul Ferris, Dr. Freud: A Life (Washington, DC: Counterpoint, 1997), 250.

[2] Freud, Sigmund, Future of an Illusion (NY: Norton & Co, 1961), 68.

[3] Herbert Schlossberg, Idols for Destruction (Nashville, TN, Thomas Nelson, 1983), 277.

[4] Ibid.

[6] II Peter 2:12ff.

[7] Isaiah 5:20.

[8] I Corinthians 2

[9] Matthew 10:24-25.

[10] I Peter 3:14-17.