How much of that kind of persistent faith will the Son of Man find on the earth when he returns? Luke 18:8 MSG
Seeing the following tragedies play out on the news these past months has been very disheartening.
- July 2012 – Aurora, Colorado Theater shooting
- October 2012 – Hurricane Sandy strikes New Jersey
- December 2012 – Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting
And now the Boston Marathon Bombings again remind us that a battle is raging. A spiritual battle. Why do I continue to be shocked? I should know this by now. We were told that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12) We were told to put on the full armor of God, so that we can take our stand against the devil’s schemes. (Ephesians 6:13-18) We were told that the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. (2 Corinthians 10:4) BUT we were also told that Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil! (1 John 3:8)
While praying for the recent tragedies, I went to a familiar comforting verse that is as relevant if not more than it was at the time Jesus spoke it. After Jesus had explained His impending death and resurrection, He said these reassuring words to His disciples,
“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 16:33)
The word trouble in this verse is the Greek word, thlipsis, which also could be translated anguish, affliction, distress, persecution or tribulation. According to this verse, we can have peace in these times of anguish for Jesus said He has overcome the world. World in this verse is translated from Kosmos, which refers to the world order or system. And we know that the ruler of this world is Satan.(John 12:31 NKJV) (CLICK HERE to hear great teaching on Satan’s influence on the world by John Piper) The Greek word translated overcome in this verse is the word nikao which also means conquer, prevail, overpower, victorious or defeat. But check this out–that word nikao is the same word used in the following scriptures
- No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (Romans 8:37)
- Because everyone who is born from God defeats the world. And this is the victory that has defeated the world: our faith. Who defeats the world? Isn’t it the one who believes that Jesus is God’s Son? (1 John 5:4-5 CEB)
So, not only has Christ overcome the world, but we through Him can overcome as well. How? 1 John 4 says our faith is what gives us the victory! Paul concurs when he says our faith is a shield which can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. (Ephesians 6:16)
In these trying times when godliness and truth is being attacked and evil is all around us, we must never lose our faith! We must not be disheartened. A friend of mine recently asked for prayer for a relative who was so disheartened God had allowed the Boston Marathon bombings that he was giving up his faith in God. Jesus knows that discouragement is the natural human response to tribulations, he experienced it himself in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the Cross. That is why he said to His disciples in John 16:33, “Take heart.” We, again see Jesus’ loving anticipation of our natural tendency to give up in despair during trying times in Luke 18. Previously in Luke 17, Jesus had warned His disciples about the perils to expect in the last days and then proceeded to tell the Parable of the Persistent Widow. (John 18:1-8 NASB) Verse one explains, “Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart.” He then explained the parable of a woman who approached a wicked judge, pressing him to avenge her of her enemy. She had to be persistent and continue to approach the bench, often feeling the judge was ignoring her. Eventually, the judge moved on her behalf and dealt a blow to her enemies. Jesus concluded his parable with the question: “But how much of that kind of persistent faith will the Son of Man find on the earth when he returns?”
Jesus told the Parable of the Persistent Widow for times such as these. Whether the tragedy is international, national or personal, we are not to lose faith and we are to pray. And not just pray but pray persistently. James echos the words of his half-brother, “Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray.” (James 5:13) We must believe as James does that the faith-filled prayers of the righteous are powerfully effective to make a difference in all circumstances but especially in tragedy. (James 5:16)
Over the years I have been so encouraged by great stories of faith that emerge out of the wreckage of tragedy. People who walk in peace, stay the course, even though tragedy strikes right at their very doorstep. Recently I was reminded of one such story. I was surfing on the internet and came across the website for Last Days Ministries which was founded by Keith and Melody Green. It brought back to my memory just how influential that ministry was to my life. The thought crossed my mind, if Melody Green did not continue to walk in faith through the great tragedy she experienced, when her husband, two children and nine others were killed in a horrific plane crash, I would definitely not be where I am today. After Keith’s death, in faith, Melody continued the ministry of Last Days Ministries. She traveled to over 110 cities showing the Keith Green Memorial Concert which was a compelling call to youth to engage in world missions. I attended the memorial concert as a freshman majoring in Computer Science at UC Davis. The Spirit used this concert to radically change the direction of my life. I transferred to a religious private college where I trained for ministry. I met my husband there and together we have enjoyed the privilege of ministering for over 25 years.
In the Keith Green biography, No Compromise, Melody Green writes how at the time of Keith’s death the Lord gave her this scripture. “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. (John 12:24 NASB) Out of Melody Green’s tragedy, much fruit was cultivated. Rather than be disheartened when tragedy hits, through faith may we prepare for countless crops of fruit.
Thank you, Lord, for the days in which we live because where sin abounds, grace abounds much more. (Romans 5:20) Thank you for your Word that reassures us that you are still in charge, that man does not determine his own destiny nor set his own schedule, that you are working out the events of earth according to your own plans and nothing can stay your hand. Help us walk in faith because we know that without it, it is impossible to please you. (Hebrews 11:6) Keep us praying and laboring in the fullness and power of the Spirit to accomplish what you want done in these days. Bring healing to the wounded and grieving of Boston and to countless others all over our world who have encountered tragedy. We ask this in Jesus’ precious name, Amen. LH
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