No, Maria is not pregnant. I’m talking about the birth pains that Jesus mentions in Matthew 24. You see, this week during our family devotions we have been studying Matthew 24 and discussing how Jesus prepared His disciples for His return. His disciples asked a key question, “Lord, when will these things take place and what will be the sign of your coming?” And then Jesus began to give them some specific answers that would let them know the question of “when.” He tells us first that there will be wars, rumors of wars, nations rising up against nations, famines, and earthquakes. But He lets us know very clear that this is not the end, but it is the beginning of the birth pains.
But we all know that birth pains signify that there is an end in sight. A mother giving birth knows that the birth pains mean that she is definitely going to be giving birth soon. And so we too, thanks to the words of Jesus, can know that the beginning of birth pains signify that He is indeed coming soon.
The reason I mention this is because today here in Costa Rica, there was a very strong earthquake that was felt within a hundred miles from the epicenter.
It was scary for many of us. I was in the middle of my grammar class and all of a sudden the room just started shaking slowly. At first, many of us were fascinated by it, but as the shaking became stronger, we all fled out of the building in a mad rush. There was a lot of craziness. Nobody really knew what to do. So, we all gathered in the chapel and we did the best thing that anybody could do in this situation…we prayed and committed our lives to the Lord. We recognized His Lordship. We recognized His sovereignty over all creation. We recognized His love and care for His children. It is in this, and only in this, where we find our complete hope and rest.
But we can also be comforted knowing that these things which are occuring more frequently these days (earthquakes, famines, wars, etc) signify something amazing…Jesus is returning soon! There can be no greater joy than this fact. As a Christian, it is what our entire hope is based upon.
So…yes, earthquakes are scary in the moment. And the Word of God is a great comfort to us in those moments. During our prayer time in chapel, I read this psalm aloud that the Lord brought to my mind. How awesome is God’s Word in the midst of trouble or uncertainty. Psalm 46 says:
God is our refuge and strength,
a very present[b] help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
6 The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
8 Come, behold the works of the Lord,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.
10 “Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
So, even in trouble, fear, worry, or actual earthquakes, God’s Word is our anchor because God Himself is our anchor.
But let’s also remember that these troublesome times were predicted by Jesus long ago and He let us know what these things signify. And for the follower of Christ, these things should bring us a sense of excitement and awe and wonder that our King is coming again soon. Let’s not miss this fact. Jesus gives three imperatives for us in Matthew 24. Before explaining about His return, the first thing He says in verse 4 is “Do not be led astray”. He prepares us that there will be many that will try to deceive, even the elect, with regards to the return of Christ. And that is why He gives us some specific detail as to the events of His coming…so that we will not be deceived. He then in verse 42 commands us to “stay awake, for you do not know at which hour the Son of Man is coming.” He reminds us, using the example of the days of Noah and the flood, that He really is coming, that when He comes it will be in an instant, and therefore we need to stay awake. Finally, He tells us to “be ready, for you do not know at which hour the Son of Man is coming.”
So, it is crystal clear from this passage of Scripture that Christ is coming again, that He gives us some very clear signs to be aware of to know when He is coming, and that He tells us to be ready for His coming.
So, yes…the earthquake was scary, especially after having lived through the earthquake in Haiti that killed almost 300,000 people in thirty seconds. But our comfort is in Christ, that He is our ever present help in trouble, even in the midst of an earthquake, and in the confidence we have knowing that these things that happen only bring us closer to the realization that Christ is coming again for His chosen people. And this alone should overwhelm our hearts with joy and excitement. – Cody