I have no explanation for it – I am hoping you do. My Thursday’s Thirst is never opened by more than 35% of the people it is sent to. Often the number is under 30%. But last week’s message about “Trust”was opened by 42.7% – at least 50 more people than any week before! I want to know what is happening!
Was it the title, the times, or the topic? Was it the lead-in questions, or just a simple, inexpiable coincidence? Or, perhaps, Mail-chimp has changed its ways of recording data? Please, if you would be so kind, tell me why you opened “Thursday’s Thirst” last week … and, for that matter, why you are reading it right now.
I look at the world around today and I ask the same question – “What is happening?” In some ways it feels like my teenage years all over (late ‘60’s to early ‘70’s). Others suggest the history we are repeating is from longer ago. Some look in the opposite direction, speculating that the return of Christ is immanent.
This week I read a story about some women who were asking this question. They were overcome with grief and disappointment. Life had taken a sudden and tragic turn, and all they could do was wonder, “What is happening?” However, God sent them two separate messengers, both with the same words. Those words? “Don’t be afraid. God still has special plans for you!” I do not know how long it took for these words to sink in and take root, but I do know that Jesus did turn their tears of sorrow into ones filled with joy.
The Apostle John was the youngest of our Lord’s 12 disciples. He was on the Mount of Transfiguration and the mound called Calvary. He was in the empty tomb on Easter morning and the upper room on Pentecost. And in the years that followed he witnessed many miracles … many martyrs … Jerusalem and the temple destroyed stone by stone (until not one was left upon another) … a world living in terror and a church forced underground due to persecution. And then, very late in his life, he tells us “I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.” (Revelation 1.9-10) In other words, he was there as a banished exile, not on vacation!
He goes on to say, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet saying, ‘Write what you see.’”… and then he hears virtually the same words that the women had heard. He hears the voice of Jesus saying “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore.” (Revelation 1.17-18) I am not sure if he ever fully understood what was happening, but I do know that our Lord’s message got through to him.
And it is the same message that our Lord seeks to get through to you, and me, and everyone alive in our world today. “Fear not. I still have special plans for you.” “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore.” (Revelation 1.17-18) “Fear not, my beloved brothers and sisters, rather, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15.58)
It troubles me to see so many people living in fear these days. It troubles me, but I understand it. If all one listens to is the world’s many media and all one looks at are the bad things happening, one is bound to be captured by fear. And if we adults are scared, what is it going to be like for the next generation? I do not know a single parent who wants their children to be stymied by fear, yet … What is happening? Should we, instead of being afraid, throw caution to the wind? I think not – no parent wants their children to behave like that either. Rather, I suggest we heed the same words our Lord gave to John and the other 11 back in Matthew 10: “Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (v. 16) … and “have no fear.” (v. 26)
What is happening? I do not really know … but there are a few things I am sure of … like the words of Jesus to you and to me and to all “Fear not” … and the advice given through Saint Paul, “be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord knowing that in the Lord you labor is not in vain.” And, to make it a ‘holy three’, there is one more thing I am sure of this day: Today is my wife’s birthday. And that, my friends, it what is happening!