How often do we feel hopeful after checking the news? Natural and human-made disasters, disease and pandemics, wars and the threats of violence, climate change and ecological crises, crime in the streets, racial injustice, political and corporate corruption—the list is long and disheartening. It is hard to stay hopeful in such a world.
But this is nothing new. Jesus warned his followers that such reports and realities were natural, all signs of a broken world and a broken relationship with God. Jesus talked about the signs of the times, portents of doom, discouraging and destructive messages. His focus on the terrors of “normal” life simply highlighted the need for salvation and transformation. The world we have is not the world God intended, and it is probably going to get worse before it gets better.
So, where is the good news in all this? For Jesus, the answer is simple and straightforward: The world does not have the final word; God does. What we see with our eyes is not the ultimate reality. Our ultimate reality is the will of God, the vision of a new creation, and a future filled with hope, harmony, and grace.
Modern-day Christians who feel that their faith should be easy and their lives comfortable haven’t read—or haven’t understood—much of the Bible. Discipleship is hard work. Faithfulness is a full-time job. And messages of equity, justice, tolerance, and generosity are not often well received in a world of brokenness, corruption, greed, and violence. Proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ is risky business, but God is with us, now and forever.
Almighty God, give us strength, power, and conviction to stand firm in our faith and be steadfast witnesses to your love and grace. Amen.
This week we read two passages from the prophet Isaiah. In the first, God promises a total restoration, a new heaven and a new earth— a theme repeated in Revelation 21. The new Jerusalem will be filled with joy and prosperity. Isaiah 12 offers thanksgiving to God for the gift of salvation. The praise of God will be proclaimed among many nations. In the epistle, Paul chastises a lazy faction among the Thessalonians. This passage has been misapplied as teaching against providing assistance to the poor, but Paul’s target is not the poor; it is those who can provide for themselves but fail to do so because they say they are too focused on waiting for Jesus. In Luke, Jesus foretells future turmoil for Jerusalem at the hands of the Romans.
Read Isaiah 65:17-25. How can you play a part in Isaiah’s vision for God’s people? When do you have to accept that only God can usher in this vision? How do you know the difference between these two situations?
Read Isaiah 12. How can your words be life-changing for others?
Read 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13. Who has mentored you in the faith? How has their guidance helped you grow?
Read Luke 21:5-19. How do you speak the truth of Jesus to those who say the end is near?
Respond by posting a prayer.