Our thought for the day today is just a little excerpt from the exhortation I gave this morning from Luke 21. Our Lord speaks of two periods of time, one the end of the Jewish world in AD 70, and the other the end of our world. Both times are scary, with anxiety and foreboding about things coming on the world. But Jesus put a positive spin on things despite what would appear, from worldly point of view, to be doom and gloom.
When outlining the events leading up to AD 70 Jesus said his disciples would be persecuted and put in prison. However, he also said “this will be your opportunity to bear witness” (v.13) and so it was. The apostles did suffer many things but enabled so many more to hear the gospel message as a result of them being chased from city to city. But the positive element of what we’re going through right now could be even more wonderful it is what Jesus says about the “distress of nations with perplexity” (v.25) and “people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world” (v.26). When that verse comes to pass it is the prelude to the most amazing event we will ever experience in our mortal lives. Jesus said, “when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (v.28).
We might be on a white-knuckle ride, perhaps for the rest of our lives, but we know where it’s all leading. We know the end of the story. That word “straighten up” in verse 28 is used by Luke earlier, in the healing miracle of the woman with the disabling spirit (Luke 13:10-17). She was bent over, representative of us, weighed down (Luke 21:34) by the anxieties of life. But in the miracle, she was made straight and Jesus calls it being “freed” from her disability. This was her redemption and it speaks also of our redemption which is drawing nigh, when all the things we worry about, all our anxieties about sin, mortality, the problems of our lives, the problems plaguing the world, will be completely lifted off our shoulders for eternity.
We know the end of the story. Right in the midst of the doom and gloom of distress of nations with perplexity and people fainting with fear and foreboding Jesus also alluded to Psalm 65. His words “the roaring of the sea and the waves” come from that Psalm where we’re told what is the end of the story. There we read about the “God of our salvation, the hope of the end of the earth and of the farthest seas” (v.5). The nations might be in perplexity – no way out – but we shouldn’t be. There is a way out. Our God is on our side, the one “who stills the roaring of the seas, the roaring of the waves, the tumult of the peoples” (v.7). He will send his son to say “peace, be still” and we shall “shout for joy” (v.8).
So, let’s put a positive spin on what we’re experiencing. And whether things get worse, or get better, we know that God is preparing our hearts and minds for the return of his son and our eternal hope. He is in control. He is the God of the ends of the earth. Nothing can frustrate his purpose and we’re part of it. He holds us in his hands. And while some of us may die before our Lord returns we know that ultimately we will be raised to immortality. “Not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives.” (Luke 21:18-19).