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A Troubling Read

I like bad weather.

I enjoy watching the ominous storm clouds roll in and hear the rumbles of thunder.

Maybe I am a storm chaser at heart who prefers to grab front row seats to see and feel God’s enormous power at work.

If you are not a fan of storms, then the thirteenth chapter of the gospel of Mark can be a troubling read.

The words warn believers to expect:

  • Clever deceptions by false prophets.
  • Wars and rumors of war.
  • To be sought out, arrested, and beaten.
  • Family members betraying them.
  • Fleeing to the mountains for safety.

Violent storms can cause injury and damage property. The storms of life are equally threatening and can rattle trust in God’s promises.

The gospels don’t tell believers how to avoid storms but how to withstand them. As sturdy houses require sound foundations, a sturdy faith rests on solid Truth.

In the beginning of the chapter, Jesus refers to the magnificent temple in Jerusalem and tells the disciples that it will be destroyed. They could not fathom that a magnificent structure built for God’s glory could ever receive such a fate.

How could God allow such a calamity to happen?

In the case of the Jewish leaders and its people, the temple was destroyed not because God was punishing their lack of faith. Sometimes, God allows bad things to happen so that people can see what God has already done in Christ Jesus.

Sin-stained humans tend to place greater faith on what is built by their hands rather than what is built by God.

Comfort, convenience, or misplaced priorities can easily crumble when threatened to be destroyed. When our trust is placed on the shifting sand of current events, cultural pressure, or societal norms, hope evaporates into hopelessness.

Faith in God’s promises builds houses on the rock of Christ.

True hope not only withstands storms but expects them when they arrive at our doorstep.

Faith built on the foundation of Christ doesn’t necessarily need to plead God to remove the storms in life but asks him for the power to withstand them.

Power is made perfect in weakness. God’s grace is sufficient in all circumstances. (2 Cor. 12:9)

God can answer prayer by moving mountains. But maybe mountains aren’t moved so that we can climb them to see God’s big picture.

The clouds below can part for us to see that we live in a spiritual wasteland where unseen battles wage. Believers in Christ are like displaced refugees who are either engaged near the front lines of battle or suffer from its effects. Faith knows that ultimately Christ wins, and his banner of victory will be raised.

It is only then that we return home.

Jesus lovingly reminds us to be watchful for what is to come, and not be absorbed by worry or anxiety. 

He graciously warns us to not be misled and allow our minds to be tickled by new-age thoughts or be distracted by worldly pursuits. Instead, we stringently harbor our hearts and mind in his means of grace and keep them tightly tethered to the truth of his Word.

A firm faith doesn’t mean for believers to be storm-chasers, but we can observe storms with a sense of awe, wonder, and confidence.

The end times are not a picture of a distant future but an Instagram of our present reality. It’s not an approaching storm, but the fact that we are in it.

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