You will hear of wars and rumors of wars…such things must happen, but the end is still to come.Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.All these are the beginning of birth pains. "Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold…1

Sound familiar? One can’t help but wonder if our Lord is, indeed, preparing to draw the curtain on this fallen, frustrated world. Civility is a lost virtue; narcissism infects even the body of Christ. God has been banished from the university and public school classrooms. Biblical illiteracy is pandemic, tolerance is king, and even some of our most respected theologians are beginning to doubt the creationist or intelligent design models of a First Cause. We who have committed our lives to serving a risen Savior have every earthly excuse for wringing our hands, and growing “weary in doing well.” But we are instructed in Luke’s account to “lift our heads” in these times, for our redemption is near!

And there are other reasons for hope. Our friends in the Middle East report Muslim men dreaming dreams and having visions of Jesus Christ, just as the prophet Joel predicted, and the Apostle Peter confirmed. International ministries like Gospel for Asia’s Bridge of Hope carry the light of Christ to the Dalit in some of the darkest places in southern Asia. Dick Eastman of Every Home for Christ has lapped the world 40 times, and has tracked the advance of the Great Commission from the jungles of Brazil to the foothills of the Himalayas. The family of God grows, even as this age draws to a noisy conclusion.    

Then, there are the words absent (replaced with ellipses) from the scripture passage above. Read together, they are a powerful testimony to our hope in Jesus Christ: “See to it that you are not alarmed...(for) he who stands firm to the end will be saved.”

Rather than curse this present darkness, let’s celebrate the soon-coming consummation of our salvation with holy hearts, serving hands, and eyes fixed firmly on the prize!

Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.2

 

1Matthew 24:6-13 (NIV)
2Joshua 1:9 (NIV)