Okay. Confession time. I had really really good intentions of doing the November thankfulness thing on Facebook–you know, the one where you post every day about something you’re thankful for. But we all know about good intentions. Somehow the days got away from me and it was too late to start–at least that’s what I told myself.
Really? How could I be “too busy” to come up with one thing a day to be thankful for, in the season of thanks?
So, I’m going to play a little catch-up here in the blogosphere.
These last weeks have been horrific. Whether you lean left or right, you’ve seen something happen in U.S. politics you never expected. The degree of vitriol is beyond anything I’ve known, at least within our borders. But the mayhem of our times is broader than that. The flames in U.S. cities and random shootings on our streets are nothing compared to the heartrending images of war-zone atrocities that flood the news feeds.
Yesterday I retweeted a news brief about wildfires raging near Jerusalem to a list of hashtags, hoping to generate awareness and prayer. I was stunned by the response. I received multiple replies from people with Arabic names clearly mocking Israeli suffering. Rejoicing over civilians injured, over tens of thousands of residents evacuated from their homes.
I tweeted back:
So is that what your Prophet taught you? #MySavior teaches me to love my enemies, pray for those who persecute me. (Matt 5:44)
What is wrong with the world? How did things get so out of hand?
I’m thankful I can rest in the knowledge that none of it surprises God.
But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. (2 Tim 3:1)
Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of my name. (Matt 24:8)
I used to wish I could live in interesting times. (I suppose that’s why I write historical fiction.) When I was a girl, that meant the era when women wore billowing silk that swished over hoop skirts. Not sure why that appealed! I didn’t understand the value of modern conveniences like antibiotics, indoor plumbing and the internet, clearly.
Then life knocked me around a bit and I discovered that the power of a pretty dress to satisfy is quite fleeting. The same goes for a house or a car or even a career.
My yearning for a deep joy that would withstand life’s storms brought me face to face with Jesus. I longed to live in the days when He was here in the flesh. To have a chance to see and hear Him. Now those were interesting times.
Turning to the disciples, He said privately, “Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see, for I say to you, that many prophets and kings wished to see the things which you see, and did not see them, and to hear the things which you hear, and did not hear them.” (Luke 10:23)
Prophets and kings wished to see and hear Him, just like I did. But did you know that for every Biblical prophecy of Jesus’ first coming, there are seven that speak of His second coming? And of the worldwide chaos that will precede it? I look around and I see the Middle East in shambles, creating a worldwide refugee crisis with tens of millions displaced. Oh, and did I say earthquakes? Massive quakes rated 7.0 or higher hit New Zealand, Fukushima, Japan, and–while we were gobbling pie and turkey–El Salvador. All within 10 days. That’s not normal.
This isn’t normal either:
Of course that bit He said about death and persecution hits home these days too. Christians have become the most persecuted group around the world. Thousands of Christians now face martyrdom each year and thousands more languish in prison even as you read this.
I’m convinced the signs Jesus prophesied in Matthew 24 are evident all around us. The days in which you and I are living are even more prophetically significant than when He taught on the hillsides of Galilee. Like Queen Esther, God has planted each of us right where we are, on purpose, “for such a time as this.” (Esther 4:14) Each of us is “His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Eph 2:10)
Did you ever wonder which side you would have been on back then? I have, many times. Would I have been with the crowd that clamored for His death, or with those who clustered with hearts crushed, garments torn and faces wet with tears at the foot of the cross? (Maybe both?)
I’m thankful that He’s chosen me for this time and place. That He has an adventure prepared for me.
I can’t go back and choose sides for those days. But I can make my choice for today. I can choose to walk with Him down the path of reckless faith.