But the Holy Spirit speaks, But God shortens, But Jesus’ words never disappear

Mark 13:9-11, 19-20, 31 You will stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers. But don’t worry in advance about what to say. Just say what God tells you at that time, for it is not you who will be speaking, but the Holy Spirit. . . The day is coming when there will be greater anguish than at any time since God created the world . . . But for the sake of his chosen ones the Lord has shortened those days. . . Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear.

Do you ever feel worried or anxious when you read or hear the news? I do. Right now, there seem to be convulsions all over the world, including most of my beloved Latin America. I can become almost paralyzed with concern for Venezuela when I think about what our friends there are facing. Trust has never been my strong suit, and it seems our sovereign God gives me daily the choice to trust or to fret. I know he wants me to grow in my confidence that he is in control.

I’m intrigued today reading Jesus’ discourse in Mark 13 to find “But God” phrases referring to each member of the Trinity, regarding what will happen in the future. (That’s what anxiety is all about, right? Worrying over what may happen next.) Each of them speaks to my daily challenge. Trust or trepidation. Confidence or consternation. Serenity or stress. Don’t worry in advance—the Holy Spirit will speak; the Father cares and will shorten the really bad time; when everything else changes and is lost, Jesus’ words are still completely dependable. What are some of those words? Jesus will return, in love and power, justice and truth! He will make everything right!

Thinking about my temptation to worry, I looked again at Philippians 4, and was surprised to see that Paul’s words about not being anxious in 4:6 come immediately after “Remember, the Lord is coming soon” in verse 5, and shortly before, 3:20 says “But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior.” I so often take favorite Scripture out of context and lose track of the flow of what the writer is saying. Even in Paul’s time, apparently, people needed the encouragement of living their lives within the context of Jesus’ promised return.

I’ve been reading a fair bit of history as I research the historical novel I’m writing. People have always found plenty to worry about, and the troubles of their own times often overwhelm them, with good reason. From my point of view, those troubles get swallowed up in the flow of years. Even more what perturbs me now will fade away when Jesus reigns in perfect justice.

Within that overall framework, I come back to Paul’s directions for how I live. Will you join me in this today?

Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

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