Our scripture this week is Luke 21:5-19.
Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said, “As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down.” “Teacher,” they asked, “when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?” He replied: “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them. When you hear of wars and uprisings, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.” Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven. But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you. They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. And so you will bear testimony to me. But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. Everyone will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. Stand firm, and you will win life.
Jesus has taught us some hard lessons in this passage. Hearing about the things we know being destroyed and the people we love turning against us is difficult. Being persecuted for our faith is not something most of us have faced before. Jesus tells us that we must stand firm through all of this.
Jesus knows that we are often fair-weather believers, following the path when it is easy, but turning aside when things are rough. Even when we have seen God’s love and care, circumstances can cause us to doubt. After God brought the children of Israel safely out of Egypt through the Red Sea, the people were still unfaithful, saying “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.” (Exodus 16:3)
The warning in this lesson from Jesus is sharp – “Everyone will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. Stand firm, and you will win life.” Especially when things seem worst, we must remain faithful and trust that God’s plan is being carried out.
Mighty God, sometimes we don’t understand the events that happen in our lives, but we know that You are sovereign and hold all things in Your hands. Help us to be faithful when times are hard for us. Amen.