As I read through this chapter, I have to admit that I had a strong urge to reach up to the shelf in my office and crack open a trusty commentary on Luke in order to gain some insight into the meaning behind this passage. Because what Jesus had to say here had my head spinning.
But then I thought about the poor disciples. Can you imagine how much their heads were spinning as they listed to these words of Jesus? I don't think they had a clue as to what he was talking about. Sure, they got all the references to earthquakes, famines, conflicts, persecution, and betrayal, but they had no way of knowing when all these things were going to take place. I just picture them standing there, jaws slack, eyes wide open, inwardly panicking about all they are taking in. "Is this what we signed up for?" they ask themselves.
So as I read this passage again, I began to look for words of comfort to go along with the words of conflict, confusion, and chaos. And there they were. Strategically placed throughout Jesus' discourse are some helpful reminders from the lips of the Savior to help His disciples survive and thrive during difficult times. And they still apply today.
Use every opportunity to share - In verse 13, Jesus tells the disciples that even though they are going to be arrested, put on trial, and persecuted for His names sake, they need to see it as an opportunity to tell others about Him. Don't try and protect yourself, make the most of the situation and share about the life-changing love of Jesus Christ.
Rely on the Lord - Verses 14-15 remind us that God will give us everything we need to endure everything that comes our way. We don't have to worry about having enough strength to face the difficult days ahead, because we have God on our side.
Remember that you will endure - Verse 19 reminds us that no matter what we face in the future, we WILL endure. Saving faith doesn't fall apart or fade away - it endures. To cease to trust Jesus is to never have trusted Him. Your ability to endure persecution and pain is proof of the faith within you.
Watch and wait expectantly - Verses 27-28 remind us to have an eternal perspective - to live in anticipation of the Lord's return. Don't wallow in the despair of the day, but lift up your heads and keep your eyes open for the ultimate answer to all of life's problems" The redemption of this world that will come with the return of the Lord.
Trust God's Word - Verse 33 puts it all in perspective. While the entire creation could evaporate tomorrow, the word of God is lasting, permanent, and trustworthy. This world and everything in it is impermanent and untrustworthy, but you can count on God's word.
Guard your heart - Tough times can be tough on our hearts, causing us to worry, weighing us down with doubt and despair. We can take our eyes off the hope of the Lord's return and focus in on the circumstances around us. In verse 34, Jesus tells us not to let that happen.
Stay alert and pray for strength - The opposite of a life filled with worry and despair is a life of complacency and carelessness. Jesus encourages us to be alert, to have our eyes open to all that is going on around us. In other words, be realistic. This stuff is real and it calls for prayer. We need endurance. We need strength. We need wisdom. And these things only come from one place: God.
So, what are you going to do in the difficult days in which you live? There are signs of despair everywhere. People are suffering. The news is not good. But are we supposed to panic? Not according to Jesus. We live in a fallen world in need of a risen Savior. Let's turn to Him - even when we don't understand all that is going on around us.
Father, help me to be a glass-half-full Christian who sees Light in the midst of darkness. Who sees Hope in the midst of despair. Who looks up when the temptation is to be down. Give me an eternal perspective. Help me keep my eyes focused onYou! Help to me to trust that you have the details of my life and this world all worked out and Your plan is perfect. So I have no reason to worry. Amen.