By Brooke Holt
“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.’” (Luke 21:10–19)
The world as we know it has changed drastically in the past couple of years. Recently, I have heard people use the designations pre-COVID and post-COVID. The Coronavirus brought a new level of fear and anxiety while reminding us that life is fragile. Beyond the challenges of COVID, we have witnessed a new level of political upheaval. Who knew that Democrats and Republicans could have such intense animosity toward one another? Aren’t we all Americans? Shouldn’t what unites us be more powerful than what divides us? To add further complications, the United States is experiencing inflation and signs point to a coming recession. Things we once took for granted, such as health, freedom, and prosperity, are no longer “givens.” We all face ongoing challenges.
Jesus warned that difficult times would come. There will be wars, natural disasters, famines, and terrors in the heavens—and Christians will suffer along with everyone else. That does not sound like the prosperity gospel that Americans love. In this turmoil, Jesus tells his followers: “This will be your opportunity to bear witness” (Luke 21:13). That is an interesting perspective for us during challenges. Whereas many Christians will fall away, moan and groan, or doubt God’s goodness in turmoil, Jesus instructs his followers to bear witness to him through the trials, challenges, and even persecution. In fact, Jesus says that we will be given words to say and godly wisdom to bear witness.
What a divine opportunity for God’s people. While everyone else is frightened and discouraged, maybe even to the point of attacking Christians, the children of God can stand firm that God will provide exactly what they need. Notice that he does not say that he will make it easy, but he does say that he will be with us. The Lord will protect you so that “not a hair of your head will perish” (Luke 21:18). Don’t be surprised by the trials—instead, be ready to testify to God's power, presence, and work throughout the trials. Let your peace and steadiness witness to your faith in a sovereign God.
What if Christians embraced this perspective and used every challenge in this world to bear witness to the Lord? Instead of seeing division, fear, and anxiety, people may get to see Jesus.
Are you embracing your trials and challenges as an opportunity to bear witness to Jesus? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Awaken the awe and the wonder of Advent! “The King Is Coming” is a 4-week Advent devotional especially written with a child’s heart in mind. It takes families through the salvation story by focusing on who God is, the gift of Jesus, and the importance of celebrating and sharing that miraculous gift! Bring your family together this Advent season for a journey exploring God’s big love for you.
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