Mark 13:3-13 (ESV)

And as he sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?” And Jesus began to say to them, “See that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains. “But be on your guard. For they will deliver you over to councils, and you will be beaten in synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them. 10 And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations. 11 And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. 12 And brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death. 13 And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

Jesus and his disciples went to the Mount of Olives and sat down opposite the temple. Peter, James, John, and Andrew, who happened to be the very first disciples Jesus called, asked him a question privately. They wanted to know when the destruction of the temple and other end times events would occur and what sign would be given before these last things take place. The disciples expected Jesus to set up his kingdom shortly. They had no idea that God would patiently allow thousands of years to pass so that as many as possible might come to Jesus through repentance and faith. Jesus answered them and warned about false christs who would come and lead many away from the truth. Then Jesus advised them not to assume the last events had arrived when they heard about battles and wars. Even though there will be much fighting and strife on earth, it doesn’t necessarily signal the appearance of the end. Instead of focusing on these things, Jesus warned them to be on guard. The followers of Jesus will be persecuted for the gospel. But they are never to give up! God’s will is for the good news of his Son to be preached everywhere on earth.

When Jesus cautioned his disciples to be on guard, he taught them not to be fooled into believing the Christian life will be free of difficulties. Those who follow Jesus will suffer for the sake of the truth. Yet none of our tribulations are outside of God’s sovereign design. Jesus encouraged his disciples to use their difficult circumstances as platforms for preaching the gospel (v. 11). What hardships and trials are you facing right now? Are you focused on getting out of your struggles, or on using the persecution God has allowed in your life to promote his Son? What if God told you he could lift you out of all your trials, but he could no longer use you to build his kingdom? Would you choose to stay in your struggles and make a difference for him, or seek to live a comfortable life? As we suffer today, let’s never forget that God often reveals himself to the world through our pain. Choose to show others that even difficulty cannot keep the followers of Jesus from the love of God. Instead of merely asking God to fix things for us, let’s ask him to use us however he sees fit.