“As He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age?’ And Jesus answered them, ‘See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in My name, saying, “I am the Christ,” and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.’” Matt. 24:3-12
These days, the world seems to be falling apart all around us. Events that would once have defined the sadness of a generation now grieve us on a daily basis. We weep with those we weep, we mourn and cry out to God. We search for ways to be the hands and feet of the Lord who delights in steadfast love, justice, and righteousness, and who even now practices these things in the earth. As obedient and beloved children, we seek to imitate our heavenly Father, to do the good things He has prepared for us to do, to be the people whom He redeemed to be zealous for good works.
But day after day, week after week, we hear stories that make our hearts sink, and we realize that for each story that threatens to tear apart our souls there are a thousand more we will never see in the headlines. Sometimes it seems to be too much. Who can keep going? Where is there any shelter from the pain so common it grows dull, from the weariness that seeps into our bones, from the fear that leads to restless nights and anxious days?
“Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30).
In these troubling times, it is the Lord who gives us rest and peace that surpasses all understanding, peace that the world cannot give because it does not know Him.
We live in a world that is terribly, irreparably (from a human standpoint) fallen and broken. If you search for peace, you will not find it. Are you finding it in the news? Do you have faith in something that you know beyond a shadow of a doubt will get you through today? Have you found anyone that can sincerely take away all the fear and sadness of the past, present, and unknown future?
The days to come may look bleak, but even in the storm that never seems to end, there is hope. There is One who created the universe with the mere words of His lips, who by His Word brings good news and a promise of a better future. “But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matt. 24:13-14). There is salvation. There is life that cannot be taken away, that continues even through death. There is an end when all tears and pain will be wiped away and forgotten forever. There is a kingdom where there will be no injustice or deceit, no chaos, hunger, or loneliness, a kingdom where the brightest days on this earth will seem as dark as night in comparison to the light of His countenance shining upon us as we see Him face to face.
This world will not satisfy us; it will not bring us abundant life or peace or comfort. These things can only be found in one place, and that is in the Person who in Himself is the way, the truth, and the life. No human plan or effort will create a lasting remedy for all that is wrong on this earth. To find any hope or solution, we must turn to the God who has overcome all things. He is our stronghold in this life as we sojourn in a world to which we do not belong, and He is preparing a place for us, waiting to receive us into a glory that is far beyond all comparison. “Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body, by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself” (Phil. 3:20-21).
I am, without Christ, a person who struggles with heavy burdens of anxiety. I am prone to worry, stress, and fear. But my Savior is a Good Shepherd who brings peace. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Truly, truly, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will not fear, because He is with me.
You see, my God is a Father who cares for His children. We are helpless infants. We do not and cannot understand His ways – they are higher than ours, and His thoughts are not like ours.
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell Me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
On what were its bases sunk,
or who laid its cornerstone,
when the morning stars sang together
and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” ( Job 38:4-7)
Even so, He has told us ahead of time the things that are to come, just enough to get us through without unnecessarily burdening us, as a parent would prepare a young child. “I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). He gives us comfort when He tells us these things; He knows what will happen, and even when it is painful and we don’t understand, He is sovereign over all. Completely, 100%, no exceptions. We must trust that He does not afflict from His heart or grieve the children of men. We must trust that His faithfulness is great. We must trust that He does indeed have a plan, a plan that has not failed and that will prevail as He watches over His word to perform it.
These things must come to pass, and though He is patient toward us, He is coming quickly. The disarray crafted by the evil one will only serve to prepare the way for the kingdom of the Son of Man who destroyed Satan’s power long ago; though we do not yet see it, there is nothing outside our Lord’s control. Though we do not know the day or hour, we can be sure that the Messiah who once entered Jerusalem on a donkey, the Jesus who is the Prince of peace, is coming on a white horse, soon proclaiming Himself undeniably as the King of kings. Let us never forget that our Lord Jesus Christ, who died and rose again for our forgiveness, did so not only because He is love, but also because His name is righteousness, and in His own blood He satisfied the need for justice in the sight of a righteous God. He saved us out of His incomparable goodness, a goodness that is not only compassionate but holy, a goodness that is more worthy of worship than we will ever comprehend. As we cannot plumb the depths of the priceless meaning of our salvation, so we cannot perhaps understand what a serious and awful thing it is to rebel, as all have done, against the great I AM.
As throughout the ages, even so today He warns us. He calls those who have not yet come to Him and offers them the chance to be His own children, to plead for forgiveness and escape His wrath that will completely eclipse even the terrible things that are here right now. Our sin drags us down to Sheol, but the Lord lifts us up in grace. He calls us to believe Him and worship Him in faith, knowing that “in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience” (Rom. 8:24-25). Blessed are those who do not see and yet believe, who have not seen Him and yet love Him. When this world is soon stripped away, only those things rooted and grounded in Him will last.