Monday, August 18, 2014

on hard things

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near...Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For,
“Yet a little while,
    and the coming one will come and will not delay;
 but my righteous one shall live by faith,
    and if he shrinks back,
my soul has no pleasure in him.”
But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.
-Hebrews 10:23-25,35-39
It seems like no matter where I look these days, there is news that is so discouraging that it leads me to genuine heartsickness. These past couple weeks, it seems as though the battle between light and darkness has come to a head and we have been made aware of issues that before simmered under the surface. Christian brothers and sisters suffer around the world as they are tortured and killed for their faith. Unarmed African American men are shot in the streets. Gangs use children to sell their drugs. Religious sects fight against one another and bomb each others' cities. Millions of women and children around the world are taken and sexually abused and trafficked, with Atlanta, our own backyard, being the world's hub for trafficking. Planes are shot down from the sky. Fear is instilled in the hearts and minds of millions. Lord Jesus, come quickly.

I have wept and prayed as I read the headlines. What is most troubling to me is my feeling of helplessness. What can I, a 26 year old single teacher in Athens, Georgia, really do that would make a difference? My mind reels and I sit in fear as I think of what the world will be like when or if I have children. The world we live in now is hard, to say the least. It is evil and only getting worse. People (myself included) live for themselves and protect what they deem to be their own. We cater to our needs and look out for own interests. In a word, we've got it backwards. 

{image via Pinterest}

Because God's economy says that we pay attention to the marginalized and watch as they become first. He says to have a banquet and invite the poor and the beggars. He says that we should clothe the needy and invite the homeless into our homes. Why? Because that is how the world will take note of His glory. When we stop building new church buildings and funding programs and instead build lives. When we trust in Him to take care of us and live generously, even when we know we won't see an immediate return on our investment. 

My heart hurts for the pain and suffering I see flashed across the news each day. The temptation I face is to think that I have no power, no voice. But that is just what the enemy would love for me to believe. That I am nothing; I don't matter and can't do anything. After all, if the United Nations and the rest of the world's leaders can't figure out, I sure as heck don't have anything new to add to the conversation. 

But God...

is still on the throne
hears the cries of His people
is not asleep
is still working
is omnipresent
is omnipotent
is omniscient
is still good.

Tonight, I sat in my church pew and listened to two hours of stories. Stories of men and women around the globe who are spreading the Gospel and who are investing in the most important work there is- kingdom work. And I was so encouraged. I learned so much; the most amazing thing being that despite the oppression, martyrdom, and darkness, the Church is stronger than ever. 

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem,coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, forthese words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me,“It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.
Revelation 21:1-7

And that, my friends, is the greatest Hope I have. It is my only hope. He is my only hope. Because I know how the story ends. I have no need of fear. But I do have a responsibility and a privilege to join Him in this fight. Because we do not wage war against flesh and blood, but against the principalities of darkness. So it high time we pick up our weapons and fight the good fight. We have all we need in Him, and we will be victorious. Praise God.

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