Many make it their life’s ambition to determine precisely when the world will end. By reading the signs of the times, consulting scripture, or looking to prophetic predictions that are sometimes centuries old, they claim a certain credibility in being able to do so. Is all that necessary to know? Even when his disciples pointedly ask him this question, Jesus does not directly answer. While the end will inevitably come, Jesus points out that there is a lot we need to do first: remain faithful, face persecution, endure suffering, face wars and insurrections, and give testimony. Human beings tend to focus their energies on the wrong kingdom. Consumed with all of the things we have built and seeking to preserve them, we forget that we belong to a different kingdom, the Kingdom of God.
All of the “stuff” we have constructed will be taken away. All that will remain is God’s kingdom. Which kingdom do we prefer? We answer that question by honestly looking at where we invest most of our time and energy. What matters to us as we embrace a new moment or day in our lives? If our relationship with God, the strength and integrity of our souls, and the steadfastness of our character are of utmost importance, then it matters little when the physical end will come. We will have what we need to persevere, endure, and confront whatever comes our way. Jesus cautions that we do not allow ourselves to be overwhelmed or overly terrified by the agonies and disappointments of the world. Although we may be apprehensive and uncertain when faced with complex challenges, God is with us. We will receive the inspiration we need to forge ahead.
God is a God of salvation and new beginnings. Whether we consider the daily unfolding of our earthly lives or our eternal ones to come, God never leaves us with dead ends. There is always hope, and there is always something new to come. As Julian of Norwich reminds us, “God made us, God loves us and God keeps us.” This wisdom holds true whether life is stable and profitable or challenging and uncertain. If we remember this simple truth, we will be ready regardless of the day or the hour.
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