And as some spoke of the temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, he said, "As for these things which you see, the days will come when there shall not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down." And they asked him, "Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign when this is about to take place?" And he said, "Take heed that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name, saying, `I am he!' and, `The time is at hand!' Do not go after them. And when you hear of wars and tumults, do not be terrified; for this must first take place, but the end will not be at once." Then he said to them, "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 a time for you to bear testimony. 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 kinsmen 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.
Does Christ here speak of the end of the world or of the reality of the world? It seems both, in my eyes. Especially with all the talk about rapture and the misunderstanding surrounding the last days, perhaps we have become oblivious to the message here. First, there is no way we will understand the things that will happen, so it is vanity to try. Second, we are to endure the trials listed in this Gospel passage today, tomorrow, and every day...until the end of the world.
Jesus explains that the beauty of the temples will be destroyed in the end. But before then, there will be false prophets and anti-Christs. There will be wars, natural disasters, illness, and famine. There will be signs from Heaven. We will be persecuted, even by our own family members, and perhaps killed for our faith in God. We will be hated.
Regardless of whether the Final Judgment is tomorrow or in 1000 years, we ARE living in the end times of which Christ speaks, and He instructs us to endure. He reminds us that the Spirit will give us the wisdom and words to bear our trials, and that He personally will protect every hair on our head.
How often do I consider that tomorrow could be the end of the world? Do I live as if each day was my last? Do I despair in the chaos around us or worry needlessly about world events? Are the struggles I face on par with what Jesus describes?
Am I hopeful and trusting of God's protection of my life? Do I act as if everything depended on me? How strong is my confidence that the Spirit will guide me? What can I do about these challenging times? Do I surrender to the Lord's goodness?
Especially as we approach Thanksgiving this week, let us find strength in giving thanks to God for His protection, guidance, and goodness amidst the turmoil.