The other day I was watching a video of a man describing how a woman had said he’d changed her 11 year old son’s life. The man was shocked, he didn’t understand how he could have done so, and so the woman described a conversation that the man had with the boy as he was on his daily walk, which ended with “do the hard stuff. That is what makes life worth living, and the other moments more enjoyable. Do the hard stuff.” The boy’s attitude, according to the mother, changed. He would do his chores before rushing off to his play (without being prompted, even asking to go and do them). He would make sure his homework was done, and even asked for extra things to do around the house. It was a good message, and one I think, that has weight for Christians.
Loved ones, I’ve watched my kids over the years, I’ve watched parents, at sports, at church, with school and other programs and activities, and I can almost always tell which kids will have the toughest time staying with the Faith they were raised in. The kids who are allowed to quit when things get tough or when they lose, whose parents attempt to remove obstacles from in front of them, or the ones who wish to control the outcomes of their children’s lives, these kids have little to no endurance. And Jesus tells us that hardships WILL come. That, if we stick to Him, we will face trials, be brought before kings and governors, face arrest and tortures and death. Jesus says those who “endure until the end” will “escape what is to come,” while the ones who seek peace and safety and security will get none of it in the judgement to come.
What He’s saying, and what Paul and Peter and the rest confirmed, is that when we face the trials and hardships of life with Him well, then the Judgement holds no fear over us. We were never promised an “escape from hardship.” Jesus endured the Cross, Peter, upside down crucifixion, James, death by the sword, Paul, beheading, and so on (I could go on, and I haven’t mentioned the multiple stonings and tortures, and the rest of what they endured!). Loved ones, we need to endure the hard stuff. We need to face trials and temptations and tortures with Christ on our minds and within our hearts, enduring what is to come with our eyes fixed solely on Him. He, who endured so much for us, makes it so we’re able to endure on His strength and power. So fix your eyes on Jesus and endure.
Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, 2and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
Jesus Foretells Destruction of the Temple
And while some were speaking of the temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, he said, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” And they asked him, “Teacher, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when these things are about to take place?” And he said, “See that you are not led astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is at hand!’ Do not go after them. And when you hear of wars and tumults, do not be terrified, for these things must first take place, but the end will not be at once.”
Jesus Foretells Wars and Persecution
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 pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. This will be your opportunity to bear witness. Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives.
“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it, for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. Alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress upon the earth and wrath against this people. They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
“And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
The Lesson of the Fig Tree
And he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. As soon as they come out in leaf, you see for yourselves and know that the summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all has taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
“But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
And every day he was teaching in the temple, but at night he went out and lodged on the mount called Olivet. And early in the morning all the people came to him in the temple to hear him.