Speaking to his disciples, Jesus said, "They will hand you over to be tortured and will put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of my name. Then many will fall away, and they will betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because of the increase of lawlessness, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the world, as a testimony to all the nations; and then the end will come." Matthew 24:9-14
Although we have lived in Alaska for a very short time, I have learned a great deal about endurance while here. Folks who have grown up and thrived on our little island are sturdy, resilient folks. They don't give up easily and tenaciously find new ways to go forward when the way is blocked. They have a fierce sense of community and deep love for the land and the people. When things get tough they don't faint away but regroup and find new ways to celebrate the life they have been given.
Jesus is trying to prepare his followers for the challenges ahead. Life is not easy for any of us but it is often extremely dangerous for those who follow God in opposition to the authorities. Their life together had not been simple, but they were buoyed up by his presence and ministry. Soon they would be on their own. Not left alone but under scrutiny and abuse for who they are without the visible presence of their teacher. We all need to move out on our own, out of our comfort zone, out to face the world. We can despair and fall away or trust that God is saving us, God is with us, even in the darkest of challenges. We just need to endure.
Today, I ask God to give me strength for the challenges ahead. May we not waver, fall into anger or fall away. May love be our banner and our goal always to serve God. May we endure by simply holding fast and not giving in to jealousy or fear. May we strengthen our souls, day by day, so that we might be the carriers of good news, the bearers of God love to the ends of the world.