In today’s reading, Jesus and his disciples visit the Temple in Jerusalem. At the time it was 500 years old, but the Temple was still a marvel of ancient industry. One of the disciples exclaims over it to Jesus, who in turn warns that nothing endures; change and destruction are inevitable in this world. Within 100 years, the beautiful Temple would lie in ruins; and Christ’s followers would be suffering terrible persecution. Jesus’ lesson that day was that despite severe trials, our faith can endure when we follow and lean on the Author of our faith.
Just as the Temple was the physical symbol of the Jewish faith, the ship the Endurance was the symbol of Earnest Shackleton’s expedition to Antarctica. At the time it was the strongest ship ever built, and Shackleton was so confident in the ship that he christened it the Endurance after his family motto: “Through endurance we conquer.” Just as the disciples could not imagine the Temple lying in ruins, Shackleton’s crew could never foresee their ship crushed like an eggshell in the jaws of polar ice. Each group, the disciples and Shackleton’s crew, had to rally their will to survive in the face of devastation, and they had to place full confidence in their leaders’ ability to bring them through.
Our finances, our relationships, our health, our reputations—all are vulnerable to destruction. But what about our faith? The nightly news reports horrific crimes, wars, natural disasters, and humanitarian crises. We can throw our hands up in despair. Or we can invest in our faith by persevering in confidence in our Savior. Jesus encouraged us with these words, “Do not be alarmed; this must take place.”
Believing is a choice. Despite outward circumstances, we can choose to believe in God and God’s care for this world.
Could you persevere if the thing you hold dearest were destroyed? We can be supremely confident in God’s faithfulness. “Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful” (Heb. 10:23).
The inability to have a child brings pain to many today, and this was equally true in ancient times. In that context it was sometimes even worse, for Peninnah openly ridicules Hannah for being unable to conceive. But as a result of Hannah's desperate, heartfelt prayer, God blesses her with a son, Samuel, who will become a powerful prophet. Hannah then rejoices in a God who exalts the poor and needy. Hannah provides an example of the boldness with which we also can approach God now because of Christ’s sacrifice. The destruction of Jerusalem is the focus of the passage in Mark. Jesus here predicts the demolition of the Temple and the city, which the Romans executed in 70 ce.
Read 1 Samuel 1:4-20. How do you persist in prayer when your prayer seems unanswered for a long time?
Read 1 Samuel 2:1-10. How do you express your joy and thanks when God answers your prayer?
Read Hebrews 10:11-25. What helps you to persevere in the practice of your faith?
Read Mark 13:1-8. What signs make you anxious about the future? What helps you to hold on to hope?
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