Joy Despite Struggle
This is one of the things I find the most rewarding about Jesus' message. He acknowledges life will not always be perfect, even when following him. There will be times of struggle, turmoil, illness, destruction. But even in the midst of those things, there will be hope - hope of an end to suffering, hope of restoration, hope of the return of joy and love.
I'm always curious about people who seem joyful all the time. Not to say that they're always happy, but that they live with a deep joy that permeates, even in times of distress. I am not one of those people. I struggle every day to find moments of joy. So many external and internal struggles have made it difficult for me to fight the darkness. But there are others who have faced struggles and yet do not despair. They are perplexing to me. But I believe their joy is genuine. I watch and I learn so that I too, can one day be the kind of person that exudes joy. I thank God for those people because they give me hope.
Narrative Lectionary Text: Luke 21:20-38
“When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Then those in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those inside the city must leave it, and those out in the country must not enter it; for these are days of vengeance, as a fulfillment of all that is written. Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress on the earth and wrath against this people; they will fall by the edge of the sword and be taken away as captives among all nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
Then he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. “Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day catch you unexpectedly, like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” Every day he was teaching in the temple, and at night he would go out and spend the night on the Mount of Olives, as it was called. And all the people would get up early in the morning to listen to him in the temple.