The Gospel of today doesn’t make for pleasant reading. In fact its quite scary in relation to some of the things he talks about like earthquakes, disasters, wars and diseases. These are the things we all sincerely hope that we will never have to face in our lifetimes.
The piece begins with people admiring the wonderful temple in Jerusalem, how it was so beautifully adorned and had such fine stonework. What they were looking at was one of the ‘seven wonders of the world’. To all those who were looking it would have seemed virtually indestructible. All except Jesus that is who looked not too far into the future and could see a day coming when it would lie in ruins. How right he was, because in just seventy years after his death the unthinkable happened. The Roman armies came, ransacked the city and destroyed the Temple. Under the instructions of the Emperor Titus they left not a stone upon a stone except a huge wall where the Jews could wail at. Ever since this has been known as the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.
What Jesus was saying was that there would come a time when to be his follower it would be really hard and their faith would be seriously tested. We have had all the things Jesus spoke of; the earthquakes, sunamis wars and diseases. They didn’t mean end of the world but for so many millions they did mean the end of their lives.
Even if we never have to face any of these horrible things we will have to face other challenges that will test us to the limit to see if we are faithful to Christ or not. What are some of the things that happen in peoples lives that might cause them to wonder if God really loves them or not?
What about a friendship or a marriage that breaks up? That’s not by any means easy to get over.
When we see something bad happening to someone good its presents us with some big questions?
When we desperately hope for something to happen the way we want and it turns out otherwise we feel bitterly disappointed. It’s easy to turn our back on God as if He is the one responsible.
Then when we ourselves or someone we love gets seriously ill, does’nt that too seriously test our faith. If God loves me then how could he allow this to happen?
Then the biggest test of all for everyone is when someone who is close to us or someone we love dies. That’s when faith is really difficult. In fact that test really separates the men from the boys and the ladies from the girls and not everyone passes because so many walk away and lose faith.
Let me tell you an old Jewish story that to me is all about how to be faithful or to live a life of faith………….. A farmer had an old donkey that he wanted rid of and he also had a disused well that he needed to fill in. To kill two birds with the one stone he decided to bury the donkey while still alive in the well. The unfortunate animal was bundled in and heap upon heap of clay was thrown in on top of him. First he was distraught but then he had a bright idea. As each shovelfull fell on him he shook it off and pounded it under his feet. Inch by inch he rose higher and higher until eventually, to everyones amazement, he jumped out of the well with a loud heha and went on his way.
Whatever comes our way as we go through life its vital that we don’t let it get us down or cause us to lose our faith. Instead, with each shovelfull shake it off and keep stepping up. Then no matter how deep the well is we’ll eventually surprise everyone including ourselves by jumping out over the edge.