Luke 21:5-19 (NRSV)
Verse 5When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, he said, Verse 6"As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down." Verse 7They asked him, "Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?" Verse 8And he said, "Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, 'I am he!' and, 'The time is near!' Do not go after them. Verse 9"When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately." Verse 10Then he said to them, "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; Verse 11there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven. Verse 12"But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. Verse 13This will give you an opportunity to testify. Verse 14So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; Verse 15for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. Verse 16You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. Verse 17You will be hated by all because of my name. Verse 18But not a hair of your head will perish. Verse 19By your endurance you will gain your souls.
When I was younger, I participated in some longer runs. For several years I ran the twenty-mile Syttende Mai race from Madison to Stoughton WI. The first May I ran this race on the hottest day so far that year. As I began to fade two miles uphill outside of town, I reminded myself: “stay the course, you can do it, endure.” And I was able to finish the race.
Endurance is what is needed in our faith life. We all go through difficult times that try our faith. There are times when the terrain is steep, and we may find ourselves wanting to quit. Then it will be important to remember how God has graced us, and our need to lean on God’s mercy, as well as on the encouragement of others around us. Relying on others, we can finish our race in faith.
Gracious God, lead us to journey through life with you. Whenever we are challenged along the way, help us to endure in faith. Amen.