Everyday I make my way past, what I believe to be, one of the most spiritually darkened street corners of New York City. Here, at sunset, several Muslims assemble on the sidewalk for their evening prayers. It is a tiny space that becomes quickly congested as pedestrians, mostly making their way home during rush hour, are forced to sidestep prayer rugs and worshipers. The sidewalk is littered with half-empty plastic water bottles that have been poured out for ritual cleansing. And just when you’ve made your way through that congestion, you step right alongside a small cluster of men who are shamelessly proposing to women as they pass by. “Miss, marry me and you can leave me in 2 days.” They are looking for citizenship. Turning the corner onto Broadway are a few scattered Asian men and women who are scouting the area. Like hawks they zero in on their prey and make their approach. “Miss, you want Coach handbag? Come with me. Come with me.” Some days they can be very aggressive. Then there are the T-Shirts. In a brazen display of godlessness, licensed street vendors display T-Shirts bearing the most awful, foul, authority hating sayings. I will admit that some days, by the time I make it to the train station, I am emotionally overwhelmed by my surroundings.
What a fallen world we live in. War, famine, natural disasters, corruption, perversion, suffering, injustice, persecution, deceit, and sin of all kinds. Oh, but there is hope! Listen to the words of Jesus: “When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:28). While there is much debate on how these passages relate to end-time events, the broader promise for all Christians is that Jesus is coming back! John Wesley captures this promise so beautifully. “Now when these things begin to come to pass, look up with firm faith, and lift up your heads with joy: for your redemption out of many troubles draweth nigh, by God’s destroying your implacable enemies.”
He will come as quick as lightning with power and great glory! He will destroy His enemies. He will make the crooked straight. He will redeem and restore all of creation. He will put everything back in its rightful place. This is what Jesus said. And beyond that, He said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” (Matthew 24:35).
And so I encourage myself — and you, with the blessed hope of our Savior’s return.
“It is by Christian patience we keep possession of our own souls, and keep out all those impressions which would put us out of temper.” (Matthew Henry)