As Jesus was still walking the earth as a man, with his disciples gathered around him, he would often talk over their heads. Indeed, if we are honest, we can relate; I often read the scripture and find the words flying way past my ability to understand and apply them.
We know that the Israelites lived under the weight of a Roman occupation, long time suffering under that oppression. They had regularly sought comfort in the foretold coming of the Messiah that would rescue them.
Some did come to believe that Jesus was the Messiah, but that wasn’t the end of their questions. Many, maybe even most, were disillusioned and had to work through the dissonance that sets in when reality blows your expectations out of the water. Others were likely very confused, but still following, trying to make sense of it all.
At one point, a huge contingent of Jesus’ followers walked away, and Jesus asked the ones who stayed:
“You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.
Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:67-68)
I have the same dilemma today. At this very time in our own history there are “wars and rumors of wars,” “pestilences and earthquakes,” as it is described in Matthew 24. “Many offending and betraying one another” and hating one another,” … the words seem to scream at us about the impending “end of the age” Jesus was telling us would happen as the forerunner of His coming again.
But, when we desperately look around for solutions, we return to follow Jesus, even in our pain. Where else would we go? He has the ultimate answer; I have come to know all other roads lead to blind alleys—don’t ever want to run down those traps again.
Some friends and I were talking the other day and speculating about Jesus’ return. In the world at large, and in our personal and family lives, there is much reason for our hearts to recoil from what’s happening now and to look toward the day when Jesus will come back and make it all right. We ask with the disciples, “Tell us, when will these things be?”
And we, though believing and committed to Jesus, wrestle with disillusionment, doubt, confusion. On a very real level, we ache for the time when He will rescue our children, rescue us. “How long, O Lord?” we ask.
At this point, I must apologize to the reader. I don’t have an answer to these questions.
But there are a few points in scripture that I cling to as I wait for Him:
One day, not now, but one day, I will see it all.
“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” (I Corinthians 13:12 KJV)
I like the phrase “see through a glass, darkly” used in King James because it so starkly describes how the mirrors of the time distorted reality because the glass so imperfectly reflected the image. It is true that our perceptions are like that ancient glass; we only see a hint, a few recognizable points, to be sure. But many important points, most of the real picture is hidden to us—we never have all the facts or a deep understanding of anything important. Our point of view on much of anything is only a partial picture, we only “know in part.”
But the good news is that … we are in the process of learning to see more clearly every day we follow Jesus, and one day, we will see reality clearly and understand it all.
Jesus is protecting us; we couldn’t bear to know all truth, so he spares us what might harm or mislead us.
“I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.” (John 16 NIV)
God is in charge and has our very best interests in mind; he knows what we are dealing with, but He promises He will overcome.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16 NIV)
And I still ask, “When?” “How will I bear it?” And I still don’t know. But I offer a final thought.
We certainly cannot bear it in our own strength, that’s for sure. I get in my own way, and in the way of others so often by trying to understand on my own, trying to “figure it out”, trying to . . . make a sense of what only God can make sense of for us—as we are ready, able, the Holy Spirit teaches us.
So, the remedy, the answer to all questions, the hope to replace hopelessness, the comfort to soothe our heartaches, the peace to defuse chaos, the strength to overcome. . . .. all this the Lord Himself wants to be to us and will work into our minds and hearts as we are able to receive it.
“This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty. (Zechariah 4:6)
Prayer: Lord comfort us; work in us the will to increasingly surrender to You, to receive your perspective, that our hearts and minds will be renewed moment by moment, by your “Spirit.” Keep us ever humble enough to acknowledge that we don’t know much; cause us to run to you who knows everything. Help us to live , not by might, not by power, but by your Spirit.
Mary often characterizes herself as “a seeker of Truth” and has a long-standing fascination with human behavior and motivation. Her education consists of lay and discipleship counseling, independent study about the integration of psychology and theology, counseling and human sexuality. She also holds a BS in Human Services and an MA in Psychology from Regis University.
Mary attends a Friends (Quaker) Church.
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