Most have heard about the huge devastation in Haiti (I actually wrote about it). Hopefully you heard about the huge quake that hit Chile last week. And today, we learn of the one that just happened in Taiwan. Wow!
The Haiti disaster has been very moving to many. But, I felt personally connected when I heard about Chile, because that was the location of my first-ever mission trip in 1995! The center of the quake was very near where we stayed. I remember those people and that place! My heart was permanently marked for the world while I was there! But, I digress.
As we hear about these disasters all happening in such close proximity, you begin to wonder “what’s up”? Well, according to some, this kind of activity is “normal”. Well, yes and no, if you ask me. There’s nothing good, normal, or right about people dying suddenly and tragically! Further, if you search it out, you’ll find that the number of earthquakes that happen every year has increased exponentially in the last 30 years (and there are actually tens of thousands that happen, we just usually hear about the really big ones). So, where am I going with this?
As I was praying for Haiti and Chile last week (before I heard about Taiwan today), I felt a stirring in my spirit, and heard this:
“When you see the shaking, when the earth is quaking .. look UP!”
I was reminded of Matthew 24, as Jesus answers his disicples’ question, “How will we know when You’re coming?”
Matthew 24:6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains.
These ever-increasing quakings are birth pangs. The natural course of giving birth is always progressive, and the “pangs” get more frequent and more intense when the birth is near. We should pay attention to the sign! His return is getting closer. But, alas, as Jesus said, THIS is not the end. See, the greatest devastation on the Earth is not just earthly destruction, though this is extremely tragic. Listen on to the words of our loving Savior:
Matthew 24:10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold
The greatest devastation and the greatest tragedy is when the hearts of men and women “grow cold”! Can’t you see how this happens in natural ways even as we hear of disaster after disaster? After a while, it doesn’t touch us as deeply as it did before… “oh, another earthquake. hmm.”
But — the even bigger issue — are we moved by the ever-increasing wickedness and sin that pervades our culture? Or have we become caloused? Have our hearts become indifferent? Have we “grown cold”? When our hearts become untouched and unfeeling, this is truly tragic.
You see, the end of the story is not doom and gloom. There’s a glorious promise:
Matthew 24:13 but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
The end of the story is that there will be a great harvest of souls and the Gospel reaches every part of the earth, and then, best of all, JESUS WILL RETURN! The King of Kings will come and bring true peace! The God of justice, full of mercy, will come and bring Heaven to Earth! That’s Good News!
And, who will be with Him on that day? Those who stand firm to the end. Who will stand firm? Those who do not allow the increasing disasters to callous them, and those who keep their hearts tender, even as sin abounds and becomes more and more “normal”. You see, the human heart’s response when terror upon terror comes is to blame God, “How could you let this happen? I thought you were good!” Even if it’s not that openly expressed, doubt creeps in. It does take strength to “stand”. When we see immorality all the norm, and sinful lifestyles being glamorized and sometimes legislated, our hearts stop feeling anything, and we say things like, “it’s their choice”. Sounds harmless doesn’t it? It’s a symptom of detatching. We just don’t “care”. Our hearts grow cold.
So, how are we to stand? We look up. Not just waiting for Jesus to return, but, we set our gaze on Him. We set our eyes and our minds on the things above (Colossians 3:1-4). This is where Reality is. Everything else is fading away. True perspective will always be found in Jesus (not the news reports), and He is forever tender and compassionate. He cares. He is looking for those who will be His friends, who will share with Him the things on HIs heart, those who will stand close to Him, no matter what. For, it is there that our hearts will stay alive.
Colossians 3:1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your [real] life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Ezekiel 9:3 . . .Then the LORD called to the man clothed in linen who had the writing kit at his side 4 and said to him, “Go throughout the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the detestable things that are done in it.”
Who will be a friend to Jesus? Who will stand with Him? Who will lament the devastation of natural disaster, and grieve over the coldness of heart that pervades mankind? Who will stand in the heat of His gaze and keep their heart near Him, in the radiance of His divine Life? Will you?
When the earth is shaking, keep your eyes focused on Jesus. He’s up to something, and it’s Good.