Jesus said, “When you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.” (Luke 21:31)

Three people were visiting the Grand Canyon—an artist, a pastor, and a cowboy. As they stood on the edge of that massive abyss, each one responded with a cry of exclamation. The artist said, “Ah, what a beautiful scene to paint!” The minister cried, “What a wonderful example of God’s handiwork!” The cowboy mused, “What a terrible place to lose a cow!” The same scene that thrills one person can provoke dread in another.

At one point early in our life, many of us were scared by the concussive boom and sudden flash of fireworks. There still are things that scare adults, but do not have to. What scares you? Jesus lists some major adult scares: “Nation will rise against nation … There will be great earthquakes, famines … Fearful events and great signs from heaven … Men will faint from terror …” (Luke 21:10,26).

Wars, terrorism, and natural disasters are scary. If this life were all there is, then disasters would mean despair. It does not have to be so, Jesus assures us. He reminds us God is in loving control. He calls these events signs. They are birth pains. Those contractions, among the worst of all pain, also signal that a wonderful delivery of new life is near: “When you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near” (Luke 21:31).

Some firecrackers pack the wallop of a stick of dynamite. A toddler feels that blast of energy and is terrified, burying his head in his mommy’s or daddy’s shoulder. Adults know these noises and flashes will not hurt them, and even look up to await the next burst. So Jesus urges us not to dread nor bury our heads at all this world’s bad news, “When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near!” (Luke 21:28).

How are you handling the signs of the times? The same Jesus who calmed the furious winds of a storm and rose from the dead, tells us to not panic at the distressing signs in nature and society. He paid the price for all our sins, so we can look forward to his return—the One who judges is also our Savior, Jesus.

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