Jesus didn’t hold anything back from his disciples. He told them that things would be difficult. When he spoke about the world he was very realistic. He spoke about wars and revolutions, earthquakes, plagues and famines, persecution and imprisonment, betrayal, hatred and killings.
He told them that such happenings would provide them with an opportunity to bear witness to him and to the Gospel. It is in times of darkness that the light is needed. It is in times of falsehood that the truth is needed. It is in times of hatred that love is needed. It is in times of war that peace is needed. And it is in difficult times that Christian witness is needed.
By forewarning them Jesus was forearming them. He was saying: You’ll need wisdom – don’t be deceived. You’ll need courage – don’t be afraid. You’ll need staying power and endurance – don’t give up. He will see to it that they will triumph in the end, provided they remain steadfast.
Our times offer numerous opportunities to bear witness to Jesus and his Kingdom. The many tragedies and disasters that occur in our world could easily lead us to despair and convince us that we are the sad victims of circumstances. But this is not how Jesus looked on events. He called them opportunities.
Faith seems to thrive in adversity. Indeed, sometimes faith is born out of adversity. In a world of so much social and political turmoil, people of faith will often be regarded as naive and ineffective and irrelevant. However, we must not be afraid of skepticism and cynicism, but trust that God will give us the strength to hold our ground.
What sustains us is the belief that ultimately good will triumph over evil. So, even in the midst of turmoil, joy can be ours, because we know that God is with us. That knowledge gives us strength to live through tragedy with our spirit unbroken.
Faith is not a way of wishing that things were different. No one is helped by denial. Faith gives us the strength to cope with reality as it is. God does not spare us pain, but rescues us from despair.