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Emotional Literacy  

The term literacy is ordinarily applied to the capacity to read and write. But it can also be applied to the knowledge of other matters including emotions. Emotional literacy, the capacity to understand and deal with emotions, is a skill that women value highly when it's present in men.


An emotionally illiterate man will not know his own emotions and what causes them. He'll have no control over the extent to which his emotions express themselves. He will not be aware of other people's feelings and what causes them. And when other people express themselves emotionally, he will not know what to do.


An emotionally illiterate person will not be able to communicate his emotions and will not know what to do when he is overwhelmed by them.


Consider Lucas, a 38 year-old accountant who consulted me with his wife for a mediation of their marital difficulties. His wife, Clara, had just given a tight-lipped, tearful account of her anger and hurt about the way things were between them. I tuned to him.


He looked stiff and uncomfortable.

"How do you feel, Lucas? "

"Well, I feel that she is being unfair. "

"Okay. We'll talk about that later, when we get your point of view, but how does the way she talks make you feel? "

He hesitates, wriggles in his chair, thinks. Finally, looking embarrassed, he adds: "I guess I don't feel anything."

"I doubt it. Let's see, do you have any sensations in your body? Some people feel lumps in their stomach, funny sensations"

"Well, I feel sort of numb all over. Not now so much but when she was talking. "

"Good, what else? "

"And I also feel a tight band around my forehead. "

"Okay. Do you think that it makes you angry when she talks like that? "

"Yeah, angry, I suppose."

"How about hurt? "

"I guess so.Yeah, hurt and angry, " he says with emphasis.

Lucas is a fairly typical example of garden-variety emotional illiteracy. He eventually learned a great deal about his emotions and Clara's.


At the other extreme of the literacy scale, an emotionally aware man will be conscious of experiencing a variety of emotions at a variety of intensities. He will know what he feels and why.


For instance, when he is afraid, he will know when he is mildly anxious or when he is terrified and he'll know why. He'll also know how to make these feelings clear to others, as well as how and when to express them most productively.


When dealing with someone who isn't being forth coming about his or her feelings, he will know how to ask the right questions to tactfully get more information about what's going on with that person, emotionally. He'll know the effect of the combinations of his and another person's emotions and be able to avoid those situations in which feelings escalate catastrophically.


He will understand how his emotions are likely to combine with those of another person, e.g. if he's feeling proud of some accomplishment, he'll realize how that feeling might affect someone else who has just gotten fired and faces financial difficulties.


His prescience about such matters will enable him to avoid those situations in which feeling combine in a destructive way that escalates into worse feelings. On the other hand, he will also know how emotions can combine between people in a harmonious and positive manner and how to help to bring that about.


But there's a deep seated resistance to becoming emotionally literate. A person who can't read often becomes afraid and defensive about his incapacity and fakes understanding out of embarrassment. Illiterate persons tend to invalidate the importance of reading and writing and often become anti-literate and discount the value of the written word.


People who are illiterate often try to compensate in other ways; they try to live a normal life outside of the realm of letters. However, they're never able to escape the fact that they're unable to understand or communicate through the written word.


Likewise, people who are emotionally illiterate are often embarrassed by their incapacity and attempt to compensate for their handicap through logical and rational methods.


They discount emotions as being meaningless and useless, but are embarrassed and defensive when their incapacity is revealed. However, since in the realm of emotion, illiteracy is the rule rather than the exception, the anti-emotional consensus acts as a powerful reinforcement of the illiterate condition. After some months of work, Lucas, reflecting on his emotional upbringing, said: " I remember as a boy being proud of acting like my father and not like my mother.


I even imitated how he sat impassively when my mother hassled him with tears and scenes. Later, in the service, I was proud of being very calm, not ice-cold like some guys but calm. We all had contempt for guys who got excited or upset. I notice, lately, that soldier movies make a big thing out of the sergeant having feelings. Ours didn't, I'Il tell you that for sure. " The consequences of emotional illiteracy are many. On one hand, when emotions aren't acknowledged but suppressed instead, human relationships become one-dimensional, cold and insipid.

keeping things organized!

Rationality and logic prevail at the overt public level.


Interactions seem "civilized" and "grown up." But barely hidden beneath the surface, emotions do continue to exist and unbeknownst to us, affect our lives. When suppressed, pent-up emotions distort thinking and communication, produce erratic behavior and even create physical symptoms such as head, back and stomachaches and chronic conditions like arthritis, ulcers, colitis, constipation and hypertension.


Heart disease and some forms of cancer may also be the result of inadequately expressed feelings, as can depression and addiction to drugs. Men often discount and deny their emotions. But there's always a price when we negate our feelings. When we lose track of what we really want in order to go along with other people's wishes, we eventually become angry and persecute them.


When events hurt or sadden us and we can't cry, that sadness becomes the bedrock of our personality. We become walking dead, forever depressed and joyless. When our impulse to embrace, love and kiss and celebrate our loved ones is stifled, our hearts shrink. We become attached to inanimate objects that we can then love, discard and replace with minimal pain. Our lives may appear to be orderly, productive and well organized, but our emotions are in shambles.


Our homes, bedrooms and kitchens are neat and clean, but our closets are piled high with psychic junk and our basements are cluttered with emotional dung. We understand the trajectory of rockets and bombs. We know how to use powerful computers. But we can't direct our loving energies at home, at the office, or across the negotiating table.


We have the most advanced medical system in the world, but we have forgotten how to take care of people's medical needs and how to die with dignity. Alienated from their emotional nature, people become living dead - alive physically but psychologically deceased. Emotions are unavailable to the emotionally illiterate, but power isn't.


Being unaware and unconcerned with feelings gives people a heartless advantage over others who are restrained by their scruples. And when the living dead acquire power, as they so often do, they subject the rest of us to their control, power plays and violence. When the emotionally illiterate inhabit the corridors of power and dominate whole governments, they threaten the citizenry with apocalypse - war, death, hunger and disease.

keeping things organized!

Evaluating Your Emotional Literacy


More concretely, I may love a woman and she may love me. We may be fantastic lovers and make fabulous love, but unless we understand and effectively deal with our emotions, our relationship will deteriorate. It will either unravel relentlessly until there's nothing but loose ends, or it will become a trap from which only divorce or death can release us.


You may wonder where you stand on the emotional literacy scale.


Here is a questionnaire that may help you find out:


1. Do your feelings sometimes get out of control? Anger? Depression? Do your feelings puzzle you? Are you unable to understand them?


2. Do you sometimes feel empty inside, or dead - that you're missing something very important in life?


3. Do people complain that you lack feeling, that you're cold? Arrogant? Rejecting?


4. Do you find that most of your relationships with women are like turns at the bat - " Three strikes and you're out! " ? Do you have trouble getting involved with a woman beyond a few dates?


5. Do you experience your feelings of love coming and going inexplicably and uncontrollably?


6. Are you embarrassed to ask for what you want or talk about feeling hurt? Do you have trouble saying, " I love you " ?


7. Do you avoid emotional situations like goodbyes or people who are grieving or sick? Do you have trouble crying? Are you embarrassed when someone shows affection for you in public?


If you answered yes to these questions, you have some of the most common symptoms of emotional illiteracy. The more of these experiences you're familiar with, the more you'll be able to profit from this section of the book.  

keeping things organized!

What We Feel and Why


To be emotionally literate we need not only to feel, but to know. We need to know both what it is that we're feeling and what the causes for our feelings are. It isn't sufficient to know that we're angry, guilty, happy, or in love.


We also need to know the origin of our anger, what causes our guilt, why we're in love.


Let's begin by learning to determine what we're feeling. There's no convincing final word on precisely how many different emotions there are; an exact taxonomy remains to be developed.


But it's fairly clear that there are at most 3 handfuls of primary emotions - that's to say, emotions that are reasonably distinct from each other - including love, anger, fear, joy, shame, guilt, pride, sadness, hurt, confidence and hatred.


To begin with, emotions can be divided into positive and negative, depending on whether we seek them or avoid them because they give us pleasure or pain. Every positive emotion seems to have a negative counterpart.


For example, love is the positive counterpart of hatred. Shame is a negative emotion; pride is the positive counterpart. Likewise, guilt and self-righteousness, hurt and well-being, sadness and happiness, fear and confidence - all line up on the positive and negative sides of the same spectrum.


When two or more primary emotions occur simultaneously, they combine into secondary emotional hues. Love can occur with shame or with anger or even with its counterpart, hate. When more emotions are added, they can create such a muddy experience that chaos and confusion are the consequence.


Jealousy is often such a compost of emotions - anger, fear, shame, love, sexual desire - that it can seem both incomprehensible and unmanageable. Emotions can also be strong or weak. Each of the emotions mentioned above has powerful and weak manifestations.


For instance, anger can go from minor irritation to blind rage.

Shame can go from slight embarrassment to intense, blush-provoking humiliation. People who are emotionally illiterate may recognize their emotions only at the very intense end of the spectrum.


Men, i.e., are often either completely unaware of mild forms of anger or unable to speak about them. Yet, when they get angry enough, men will express their anger and know that they're feeling it. The same is true of men's awareness of and capacity to express their feelings of love.


Men have a tendency to feel love only when it is at the very intense end of the spectrum and to feel it very intensely but, when the feeling wanes, suddenly find themselves utterly out of love.


As in a CB, two-way portable radio, where all signals of a certain intensity or less are completely suppressed and only those that are strong enough will break through and be heard, people with a high level of emotional squelch will experience themselves as having no major feelings for the most part of their waking lives.


With the exception of sudden breakthroughs at certain dramatic moments, they experience their lives as rational and emotional. For these people emotions are usually something that happen to them unexpectedly. They occasionally experience outbreaks of irrepressible emotion which they regard as unpredictable, highly unwanted disruptions in their everyday lives and aren't aware of the constant interplay of emotions below the level of consciousness that is the cause for these outbursts.


Figure I is a graphic example of what I'm trying to explain. In a typical day, Lucas may have many emotions taking place in his body, but he is aware of only the tips of his emotional iceberg.


One brief experience of love in the morning; another of anger in the afternoon. Another example, a man who is in love with a woman who is being less than candid about her affections for another man may, after weeks or months, suddenly explode into a jealous rage.


The blinding feeling that overcomes him is a combination of several strong emotions:

All of these together will be experienced as an amorphous and overwhelming emotional chaos that he'll likely want to suppress because of its seemingly unmanageable nature. If he'd been more emotionally literate, he might have noticed his feelings several weeks before and expressed, rather than hidden, them.


He would have known the specific feelings involved and their intensity and how they combined with each other.


That is:


1. he is very much in love


2. he feels needy of her attention


3. he is suspicious of his beloved's relationship with another


4. these 3 feelings: - love, neediness and suspicion - led to fear, hurt and anger and combined into jealousy.


Knowing this, he might have been able to express these feelings earlier when they were at a much lower level of intensity. If he had, she might have changed the course of her actions:

  • She might have been more aware that he really loves her.
  • She might have decided to treat him more honestly and clarified her feelings about him.

One way or another his expressions of feeling could have made the uncontrollable breakthrough less likely and could also have alerted her to his feelings so that she could do something about them. But how was he to determine these emotional facts when he didn't really know about his feelings in the first place?

keeping things organized!

Learning Emotional Literacy


There is a strong tendency in our culture to denigrate the learning of emotional skills, especially for men. A man who wants to learn about these matters isn't going to receive a lot of support in his everyday life. Learning emotional literacy in our unsympathetic environment will be difficult.


Expressions or inquiries about emotions will be deflected or discounted and there won't be many interested in assisting with the task. It's important to remember that in order to learn emotional literacy it's helpful to be in an emotionally nurturing environment in which people applaud and support the learning of these skills.


Therefore, a major first step is to find such an environment.


Friends, church groups, men's groups, a human potential workshop, or a supportive therapy group can be a good source of backup for men who want to learn emotional literacy. There are also situations in which whole families and groups of people like religious or ethnic communities are open to emotional dialogue; such cooperative environments are ideal for learning emotional literacy.


A nurturing lover can be very helpful, of course, but shouldn't be the only support, since emotional learning can be exhausting for the teacher. It's a good idea to take the pressure off her by seeking a broad support system of close friends, friendly acquaintances, a therapist perhaps, trusted family member, etc. This allows her to be helpful without being central to the process.


Like any complex skill, it takes time and patience to learn emotional literacy. Ideally, it would be learned during childhood in an emotionally literate environment.


When it's not, as is generally the case, several complications emerge. First, when learning doesn't occur at the developmentally appropriate age, it will be more difficult later.


Second, while failing to develop the skill, the child will probably develop poor habits that will need to be unlearned before learning can occur. When people learn to play an instrument or type or read on their own, they often have to go through a difficult period of unlearning counter-productive habits before further effective learning can occur.


This is also true of emotional literacy; it's more difficult to learn later in life and requires unlearning certain bad emotional habits that interfere with it. However, while difficult, the task is far from impossible given the desire and resolve.

keeping things organized!

Unlearning Emotional Power Abuse


Emotions have power. They have an impact that at times can be overwhelming to others. We are aware of the power of emotions when we hold them back so as not to upset their target. You have acted on a unspoken understanding of the power of emotions whenever you have refrained from raising your voice in anger at a lover, friend, or child.


If you've ever hide your own fear so as not to alarm those around you, or seen the way panic spreads when someone yells " Fire! " in a theater, you're familiar with the power of emotions.


We abuse the power our emotions have when we unload them without warning on the unwary, unprepared, or unprotected in the form of tantrums, tirades, or "guilt-trips". We further abuse our emotions' power when we use them in power plays that are a sort of emotional black-mail, a tactic used to intimidate others into some form of compliance.


To give our feelings more power and justification, we couple them with judgments, accusations, exaggerations and lies, which we then wield like billy clubs.


For instance, when John is slow in doing the evening's dishes, Mary would do best to say something like: "John, we agreed that if I cooked, you would do the dishes and you're making me angry the way you're dragging the job out; please do as we agreed and finish the dishes."


But because she is feeling frustrated and powerless and has learned by (bad) example that the only way to express criticism and get one's way is by getting angry, she might say: " Goddammit, John, I'm getting sick and tired of your dragging your feet. I can't believe how far you'll go not to do your share around here; you're setting a fine example of laziness for the kids, is all I can say!"


I can make you feel; you can make me feel.


Common sense indicates that other people affect us emotionally.


Yet, it has been said that it isn't possible for one person to make another person feel something. Some psychologists argue, for instance, that only you can make yourself happy, or that if someone gets you angry, it's only because you allow it.


According to this theory, John and Mary are ultimately and completely responsible for how they feel. He should in theory be able to hear her sudden outburst without having any emotional reaction, no fear of losing her, no anger at being unjustly criticized. It should be possible for him to choose to feel nothing at all.


When you think about this, however, it seems obvious that one person's actions can create emotions in another. If Mary suddenly starts yelling about the dishes in the middle of a pleasant conversation while John is engrossed in a magazine article, taking him completely by surprise with a sudden tirade, he is very likely to react emotionally. Perhaps after being scared, he will feel hurt and after feeling hurt, he'll be angry.


Meanwhile John's feelings are affecting Mary, who might respond with guilt, more anger, or hopelessness. All these reactions will be the consequence of Mary's outburst. Emotions have real energy that sets up a powerful field of influence and affects people in its physical vicinity. John, for example, has practically no choice but to feel scared when Mary suddenly shouts at him about the dishes.


The hurt and later anger may be optional, but all 3 feelings are the consequence, to some extent, of her behavior. A common response of an emotionally illiterate person to another person's feelings is to disclaim responsibility. If John is scared, hurt, or angry, Mary's reaction may be " That's your problem, " or " You're choosing to be angry, " because she feels no duty to respond or react to them.


This discounts the whole realm of emotional responsibility and flies in the face of the obvious interconnections between people.


Women often complain of such responses coming from men and feel them to be major obstacles to emotional dialogue.


The truth is that we're able to cause feelings in other people and they can cause feelings in us. That capacity can be abused when we assault each other with anger, or try to create guilt when we're feeling hurt. Only when this emotional interconnectedness is acknowledged can an emotionally literate dialogue occur. To deny this fact is a form of emotional illiteracy.


People are intimately affected by each other's emotions, whether or not these emotions are fully acknowledged. In fact, it's probably true that the less the emotions are discussed and the more they're discounted, the more they will affect their hosts.


The discounting of emotions can take several forms. On one hand we can discount our own. We may know that we're feeling something, but we purposely brush it aside. Doing this can lead to the gradual loss of awareness that we are feeling at all.


On the other hand, we can discount other people's feelings. Here again we may be aware that another person is having a strong emotion and decide to ignore it, or we may have lost the capacity of being aware of other people's feelings altogether. Even when discounted, however, the emotions continue.


People think they interact rationally, but at the same time, at a very real but unacknowledged level, the emotional dialogue proceeds on another channel with its own puzzling consequences. One major consequence of discounting emotions is that they can stimulate each other and snowball and eventually rage out of control. Some people feel that emotional outbursts of this sort are a healthy blowout that cleans the system of emotional trash.


In a way, it's true that such outbursts release some of the tension of discounted feelings, but usually somebody gets hurt in the process, often women or children, leaving behind emotional wounds and scars that sometimes never heal.


It takes emotional literacy to understand and direct the emotional dialogue, the feeling content of a relationship.


Consider the following statement. " You have been absolutely impossible today. I'm ready to throw in the towel ."


This sentence, said in anger, contains:

  • an exaggeration ("absolutely")
  • a judgment ("impossible")
  • a confusing metaphor ("throw in the towel")

Clearly, the person is angry and probably has reason enough, but the power plays with which the anger is expressed are an example of emotional illiteracy. The above statement is unlikely to communicate what the person is really feeling, how intensely, or why. It's even less likely to bring about a solution to the problem that evidently exists between the two people.


It's more likely to invite a response in kind.


For example:


"Oh, yeah? Well have you looked at yourself in the mirror lately? You have been such a bitch that you're lucky I'm still around. Go ahead, leave, see if I care, but do it soon because I may be gone by the time you do, . . " etc.


Again, this response contains no clear message of what the person is feeling, how strongly, or why. Instead, it's an escalation of chaotic emotions (hurt and anger), self-righteousness, power plays, blaming, insults, name-calling, exaggeration, threats and judgments.


Much better would be to say: "Now wait a minute. I want to say something. When you talk like that, when you say that I have been absolutely impossible and talk about throwing in the towel, that makes me really angry, you hurt my feelings and you scare me. What is your point? What is bothering you?"


This last statement may seem clumsy but it's an emotionally literate response that will produce positive problem-solving responses. It avoids 3 major errors by doing the following.


1. It warns the recipient that something is about to be said and therefore, it's more likely to fall on sympathetic ears. ("Now minute. I want to say something.")


2. It describes the emotions being experienced without judgments, accusations, exaggerations, or power plays. (angry, hurt, scared.)


3. It describes the actions that are the cause of the emotions being felt, thus leaving little doubt about the reasons for the feelings. ("When you talk like that, when you say that I have been absolutely impossible and talk about throwing in the towel.")


By doing all of the above without judgments, or power abuse, this way of talking creates an optimal climate for emotionally literate, problem-solving dialogue.

keeping things organized!

Dealing with Everyday Emotional Transactions


To deal with some of the major emotional issues ordinarily not attended to in people's everyday social transactions, it's necessary to know:


1. What we feel and how strongly.


2. What other people are doing to contribute to how we feel.


3. Our intuitive suspicions and explanations about the motives behind other people's actions.


4. What it is that we want and don't want from people.


5. How to listen to and assimilate this type of feedback from others.


For instance, after a hard day's work, Anthony comes home and finds that Sandy, instead of being home as he hoped, is working late with a new account. Anthony is disappointed, hurt, frustrated. He wants to strangle Sandy, her boss and the new account.


Realizing that he is irrationally angry, he suppresses his fury. He suspects that the boss is keeping Sandy at the office because he is turned on to her and that she reciprocates his attraction. In his suspicious, envious mood, he imagines that the two of them and the new account are having a rip-roaring dinner party at his favorite restaurant.


When she finally comes home, he is calm but sullen and lifeless.


He responds with irritation to her enthusiasm about the new account and doesn't acknowledge her apology for leaving him stranded. The essentials felt when he got home - hurt, angry, humiliated.


2. What she did that caused his feelings - stay out late with the boss on short ice.


3. What he suspects is going on with the boss - carrying on a flirtation.


4. What he wants her to do next time - call him at work and give him some warning. If, in turn, she responds in an emotionally literate way, she will:


5. Listen sympathetically without defensiveness, acknowledge how he feels and validate whatever truth there may be in his suspicions.


If all these steps are taken and she responds in kind this difficult situation will be resolved in a positive way and Anthony and Sandy will be able to continue their relationship in harmony. If not and emotional chaos is allowed in place of emotionally literate dialog, this incident could be the beginning of the disintegration of their relationship.

The Majority: Unknowing, Unaware & Unconcerned


Most people have scant appreciation of the constant dangers that stalk our planet. The presence of God in our lives is our only sure protection.  by John Ross Schroeder


Skilled U.S. and Western diplomatic teams calmed the Indian and Pakistani antagonists just when things appeared to be getting out of control. Personal warnings from President Bush and his team had lowered the heat on the Kashmir dispute.


In effect these two nations had been threatening each other with mutual nuclear destruction. They had approached the brink of nuclear warfare. But brinkmanship of this type is a deadly game in today's technological world.


Experts feared that India and Pakistan could have set off an uncontrollable chain reaction of events - not only killing an estimated 12 million people, but threatening the breakdown of our entire modern world.


A USA Today cover story summed up the acute dangers: "Beyond such mind-numbing casualties, the first nuclear exchange in history would decimate the economies of both nations and likely trigger a collapse of world financial markets that could spur a worldwide depression.


Destruction and famine would send millions of refugees to neighboring countries...The world would face a humanitarian crisis greater than anything that it has seen before" (June 4, 2002).


The overall damage would be catastrophic. Even the geopolitical fallout is incalculable. Southeast Asia would become lawless to the extent that terrorists could operate almost unhindered. The Western war against terror might collapse in such dire circumstances.


Strong monsoons could be the carriers of deadly radioactive fallout to neighboring nations - perhaps even reaching faraway Britain. In addition to a projected 12 million deaths, an estimated 7 million would be injured and dying - a humanitarian catastrophe of the greatest magnitude.


A world of nuclear weapons


The Economist estimates that India may possess perhaps 95 nuclear weapons and Pakistan about 50. And despite a recent treaty theoretically lowering the number of thermonuclear weapons possessed by the United States and Russia, their respective arsenals remain truly awesome.


The nuclear club also includes Britain, France, China, possibly Israel and South Africa and most worrying, Iraq and Iran in perhaps the not too distant future - if they don't have them already. Noted British broadcaster and newspaper columnist John Humphrys stated the obvious:


"Since nuclear weapons cannot be disinvented proliferation will continue...The more states that join the nuclear club, the greater the possibility the terrorists will get their hands on a nuclear device" (The Sunday Times, June 2, 2002).


The nuclear weapons club is going to keep growing! There are all kinds of potential scenarios to worry about. In particular the West is currently concerned with securing the present government of Pakistan. If the administration in Islamabad should pass to unsavory adversaries, "nothing would be more dangerous than weapons of mass destruction in the hands of the Taliban or al Qaeda" (Jon B. Wolfsthal, Los Angeles Times, Oct. 16, 2001).


Fears have even been expressed about rogue generals, in defiance of either constituted civilian or military authorities, launching their own version of a nuclear war.


A very disturbing realization


One of the scariest truths to emerge out of this recent Asian confrontation is public reaction itself. As veteran British columnist Hugo Young wrote in The Guardian, "We're witnessing the banalization of nuclear weapons. Suddenly they seem to have lost their unique horror. Pakistan and India needed teaching about this truth and may not yet have learned it even with a potential of 12 million deaths held out for their inspection" (June 6, 2002).


Mr. Young was referring to those in government, but the reaction from members of the public is truly astonishing. Worry has been scorned. In speaking of the stark reality of nuclear conflict, one London Times reporter from Delhi, India, marveled,


"The depth of misconception, among ordinary people, who are pushing for their government to go to war, is alarming" (June 3, 2002).


For instance, one Indian antagonist said: "I don't care whether I live or die, we must punish Pakistan." Another stated, "If we want to have nuclear war, let us." Frightening!


But what about the West?


Gone is the U.S. fallout shelter craze of the '50s and early '60s. We've "outgrown" such fears and realized there would be little protection from such measures. Warning times would probably be almost nonexistent and the thought of suddenly escaping big cities via freeways or motorways is rightly judged ludicrous.


The Sept. 11 terrorist tragedy has sobered us, highlighting our vulnerabilities. The recent "dirty-bomb" scare reinforced the reminder somewhat.


However, it's doubtful that most really grasp the true extent of the potential dangers we face daily. Over and over again World News and Prophecy has solemnly warned its readers that we live in a very dangerous world, punctuated by serious crises of every stripe and kind.


Although God's overall plan for the future is made plain in the pages of the Bible, He has not revealed all details about what will happen in the short term, either next week, next month or next year. What we can guarantee is that God is on His throne - overseeing events transpiring in this world. He has a vast army of angels to do His bidding all the time. He is on the job on a 24-hour basis, even while we are asleep in our beds.


God is in charge


We can take great comfort from the many scriptures that tell us that God is watching over His people. He is fully aware of the dangers that we face as today's world trends and events become worse and worse. Remember the inspired words of Jesus Christ spoken when He walked this earth as a human being:


"At that time Jesus answered and said, 'I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth...'" (Matthew 11:25).


Here He fully acknowledges the awesomeness of God the Father and His absolute sovereignty.


The apostle Paul was inspired to repeat this truly profound expression when he encountered the Athenian philosophers. He said:


 "Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: God who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth..." (Acts 17:23-24).


Some 600 years before the time of Christ, ancient King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon learned this lesson the hard way. Daniel told him that time for repentance had run out and the king would be punished


"till you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men and gives it to whomever He chooses" (Daniel 4:25).


God is the Ruler! Yet in His wisdom He has chosen to extend mankind a lot of rope. At times in history, matters have really gotten out of hand before He has chosen to intervene in an obvious manner. Taking away man's free choice runs contrary to His overall purpose and He will only limit our free moral agency under circumstances that seriously threaten His master plan for humankind.


The great Flood of Noah's time was just such an occasion. Wickedness became universal and in order to preserve the human race as civilized beings, God was forced to destroy all but eight people. Then their descendants refused to spread out over the earth, instead remaining together for no good purpose to build the Tower of Babel. The sudden manifestation of multiple languages persuaded them to change their minds.


Much later in history, God miraculously rescued the nation of Israel from Egyptian subjugation by opening up the Red Sea. Then many hundreds of years down the line God sent His Son into the world to die for our sins. Jesus Christ lived a perfect life - setting us all an example of how to conduct ourselves before God and neighbor.


Special intervention in our individual lives


During His ministry, Jesus Christ continually helped ordinary people to cope with their difficulties. He healed many of all types of serious physical ailments, distressing emotional illnesses and life-threatening psychological problems caused by demonic influence and possession.


In our modern world today multiple types of diseases and mental health problems dog our lives. We have to cope continually with the stress of living at perhaps the most dangerous time in history. As never before we need to be sure of the presence of Godin our lives-trusting and relying on Him to deliver us from whatever circumstances in which we may find ourselves.


The Hebrew prophet Isaiah calls for the comforting of God's people (Isaiah 40:1). He tells us that our Creator is enthroned above the circle of the earth (verse 22). He proclaims the greatness and mercy of God throughout this section of Scripture.


God is above all and in ultimate control of whatever forces may threaten His people. He says:


"'Do not fear; I will help you. Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob, O little Israel, for I myself will help you,' declares the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel" (Isaiah 41:13-14, NIV).


In this New Testament age, the Church is the Israel of God (Galatians 6:16).


Keeping in constant contact with God


Even if it doesn't realize it, this generation is in dire need of God's intervention and help. We face uncountable dangers of every type and kind. Those few who are privileged to know and understand their Creator should draw ever closer to Him in regular prayer and Bible study.


Moses tells us that Cain went out from the presence of God (Genesis 4:16). None of us can afford to follow his path of disobedience to God's law. Instead we need to rejoice in the fact that spiritually we


"have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem" (Hebrews 12:22).


If you have contact with the Creator God and He has revealed Himself to you, this is the most precious reality in your life.


"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths" (Proverbs 3:5-6).


That's a promise! wnp

The American Red Cross