And so you will bear testimony to me. But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. Everyone will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. Stand firm, and you will win life.
Luke 21:13-19 NIV
How long does God think that we can function under unrelenting attack, unbelievable pressure, and unalterable conditions? What do we do when we just want to quit?
These have to be the questions that early Christians are asking themselves as Luke begins to write his Gospel—twenty years after Jesus’ ascension. Thousands of Christians are being persecuted under Nero’s bloodthirsty, Roman dominance. These Christians were, as Paul says, weary in their attempt to do well. At the same time, these Christians are trying to remain faithful to their belief that walking with Jesus is where the deepest meaning of all life resides.
Luke’s announcement to them, and us, is: When we wander or struggle, we must stand on our faith conviction that God always rewards His children with a promise. God promises that He will either gift us with spiritual survival or physical survival.
However, it can be hard for us to manage that in between state. God promises us survival, but the journey to the end can be filled with anxiety as we wait for a better day to come. When we are fatigued and frustrated, God expresses that His expectation is to give us the gift of survival. Against everything that happens to us, God will bless us to survive it.
God’s gift to us, though, requires an offering from us. God wants us to offer endurance to Him. We can shout about the fact that we’re going to survive, but we may not like to endure. We are not as dependable in offering God our endurance as He is to offer us the gift of survival.
As we sit in the middle of everything that we are going through, God asks us to be steadfast in our faith. We will win life if we stand firm.
When we are fixed in position and firm in our faith, we build up our hope in God. This is one of the hardest disciplines to develop. When we are able to look at our reality that makes us shiver down to the bone but continue to smile, we have truly mastered standing firm in our faith. We can smile because every detail of our body and soul, even down to the hairs on our heads, are in God’s care.