Jesus explained that much chaos will cover the earth before He returns. “So when all these things begin to happen, stand straight and look up! For your salvation is near.” (Luke 21:28; The Living Bible) Another translation reads: “So when these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (NIV)
When nations are in “anguish and perplexity,” when worry rules the day, when hardship is common… “look up.” When the world is paralyzed by fear, the children of God are to be confident. We too must deal with difficulties… but we know Who is in control… and we remember the truths of God. This world is temporary; God’s Kingdom ruled by love is eternal. Health, wealth, and ‘happiness’ are fleeting positions. ‘Do you know Jesus? Are you living in Him?’ These are the most important questions.
I’ve written before of the Wurmbrand family, who lived during a very difficult period of world history. They were well-educated Jewish atheists in Romania, and they came to Christ shortly before the outbreak of World War II. After the war, as Communism overtook much of Europe, their son Mihai was only six years old. He remembered his father being taken to prison not long after standing in a large assembly in Bucharest and denying the lies of the new government while defending the truth of the Gospel. Richard ended up spending over thirteen torturous years in prison.
Mihai’s mom Sabina also spent three years in prison. He recalled the priorities of his parents as they lost all material possessions and their freedom for the Lord. “My mom never behaved with more dedication than with those who caused us the greatest harm… these would be the people my parents would invite into their home. She would say: ‘To be a Christian is not like being a weight-lifter or other sportsman who trains at a specific time every day. To be a Christian, you have to take the opportunity right when it is most difficult.’”
I see more failures in my life than successes, but Paul reminds us to “forget what is behind” and to “press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” (see Philippians 3:12-16) As we look up and see the Father has placed us in His Son (see Ephesians 2:4-7) and given us His Spirit as Helper and Comforter, we can boldly live (with words and actions) the lives of love that will draw others to hope. God gives us the “excellent way” (I Corinthians 13) and we can love our neighbors, our enemies, our families, and one another like Christ loves us. Look up… and live with confidence!
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that God loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us. This is how we know that we live in Him and He in us: He has given us of His Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent His Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love, lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment. In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because He first loved us.” I John 4:7-19
(Mihai’s quotes are from The Torchlighters: Heroes of the Faith Episode 6,© Christian History Institute)