Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name's sake. This will be your opportunity to bear witness. Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. You will be hated by all for my name's sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives. Luke 21:10-19
Our eldest daughter Emily swims in the open water of the Hudson River every fall. A group of folks begin training together in the spring in order to endure the three mile swim in every changing waters. The first year she swam, it was just ten days after hurricane Irene and there were massive amounts of debris in the river. One never knows what they will face the morning of the event. They can prepare, week after week, but then they have to throw themselves into the water and trust that they will make it to the end. They endure for the sake of others, to raise funds to help folks with leukemia and lymphoma. They trust that the Creator will bring them to the end of the race because they are giving themselves to others. They gain their lives by enduring for others.
Jesus is talking about end times, about the destruction of the temple and the terrors his followers will have to face. He also assures them that by offering themselves to God and the community they will endure to the end. They do not need to worry every contest, rather, with a peaceful heart trust that God will give them what they need to endure to the end. We humans want to be first, to win, but really, what is singularly most important is to endure to the end, to finish the trial and be embraced by love. We are invited today to see our lives as in God's hands, and as we are faithful, God will bless us all. God will bring us through the trials and tribulations and give us the strength we need to endure.
Today, I ask God to help me live this day one breath at a time. Like a long distance swimmer, may I concentrate on the small things, one breath at a time, and turn over everything to God. May we not lose faith today, but be renewed by God's promises for us. May God give us the strength to endure and to offer our lives for the sake of others. May we rejoice in the faithfulness of our Creator who will be with us in every trial we face.