DURINg a conversation with a friend of mine he expressed that speaking with his dad had become a bit stressful for him. It seemed as though the only thing his dad was interested in conversing about was how bad circumstances had become since the start of the pandemic. After spending so much time listening to news stations he began to see the world through their frightening lens; in some way, I’m sure we each can relate. It’s natural for us to be affected by what we see, hear and experience. Although what we see when we look around is heartbreaking, we can be encouraged when we learn to look up.
In Luke chapter twenty-one Jesus explained to His disciples that before He returns there will be uncertain and difficult times. He mentioned persecution amongst His followers and history tells of the dark ages when more Christians were killed for their faith than in any other time that we know of. He also informed them that there would be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences. According to the USGS.GOV website the fifty largest earthquakes ever recorded happened within the last century; two of them occurred within the last two years! Today, food insecurity is a real concern and COVID-19 is a pestilence that has impacted the entire globe. To say the least, there isn’t much to be optimistic or hopeful about when we look at what’s going on around us.
As Jesus continued explaining to His disciples what would happen before His return He reminded them not to be afraid and to look up! In the Amplified version, Luke twenty-one verse twenty-eight says: “Now when these things begin to occur, stand tall and lift up your heads [in joy], because [suffering ends as] your redemption is drawing near.” In the Message version it says: “And then-then! They’ll see the Son of Man welcomed in grand style, a glorious welcome! When all this starts to happen, up on your feet. Stand tall with your heads high. Help is on the way.”
Before an expecting mother prepares to deliver her child she experiences contractions at a more rapid and intense rate. Jesus has promised to deliver His people from the curse of sin and what we are experiencing is an indicator that He is fulfilling His word. Although we are grieving, suffering and hurting in various ways we can trust that the God of Creation cares about our wellbeing and is more disturbed by what is happening than we can imagine. Looking up has to do with remembering God and setting our attention on who He is. Let’s remember the following:
1. How God provided for us in the past
It seems as though it requires more effort for us to remember the victories and miracles from our yesterdays when we face difficulties today. It would help if we take time to remind ourselves and each other of how God has provided for us in the past. David was mindful of this when, before he faced Goliath, he remembered that he had defeated a lion and a bear with God’s help. Keeping a testimony journal is a helpful tool to keep such memories alive.
2. How nature serves God and His people
Nature has a way of cooperating with God in providing for our needs. When Moses and the Israelites were fleeing from the Egyptians they walked through the red sea. The prophet Elijah was fed by ravens when hiding from Ahab and the hills served as a place of refuge for David while he was being pursued by King Saul. To add to the list, nutrition and water is also provided by nature for our benefit. It testifies of the love and awesomeness of God in incredible ways!
3. God’s promise to defeat sin
Sin is the cause of all heartaches and God has promised to defeat it once and for all. Notice the following promises:
“He will make an utter end of it. Affliction will not rise up a second time.” Nahum 1:9
“Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.” Revelation 20:14
“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there will be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There will be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4
We may not know the how, and we may not know the when, but as long as we remain mindful of Who God is, we can trust that He will do as He has promised.
Father in heaven, please help us trust You when all seems helpless. Amen.