Luke 21:9-19

During the season of Lent our devotions have been written by members of Faith Lutheran Church.  Today’s writer is Wendy Farner.

“When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.”

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 plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven. “But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name.

This will give you an opportunity to testify. So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your souls. Luke 21:9-19

I have always read this passage as portending great tumult and destruction upon the earth by outside forces. Evil influences (“they”) will wreak havoc upon “you” (Christians), as a prelude to the end times.

But recently, I read these words much more personally. Maybe “they” are not so much cataclysmic evil forces that will come at some future time. Maybe “they” are instead the daily struggles we all endure in our lives. The cancer that steals a beloved mother. The addiction that drives son against father. The inner torment that causes one to take his own life. The child born too soon.

For those of us who have experienced any of these types of tragedies, it can feel like we have been seized and persecuted, like we have been through earthquakes and pestilences.

Suddenly, the words of Jesus do not sound so distant, but instead draw near. Yes, this daily struggle against sin and evil is real, and not relegated to those living in the end times, but so is the promise of Jesus.

Read through to the end of the verse – and know that Jesus remains with us through it all, and ultimately brings us to the other side.

Let us pray: Lord, help us to feel your presence in the midst of darkness, and to know that you are here to protect us. Help us not to feel afraid, and to trust in you to bring us through our trials. Carry our burden when it becomes too heavy, and see us through to a better place. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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