“And as He came out of the temple, one of His disciples said to Him, ‘Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!’ And Jesus said to Him, ‘Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.’ 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.'” (Mark 13:1-8 ESV)
Labor was hard for me. My son was tiny, only five pounds—but he didn’t want to come out, and I had to take Pitocin. That’s a kind of pain I don’t ever want to experience again!
And yet, there was one good thing about it. These were the pains of birth, not death. They were leading up to something good—the birth of a child, however tiny and fragile—and so even in my pain, I had joy—and gratitude.
When Jesus talks about the suffering at the end of the world, He describes many terrible things—earthquakes, famines, wars. This is real suffering, with more to come. And yet Jesus calls it “the beginning of the birth pains.”
The birth of what? The birth of what comes after the end of the world—the new heavens and earth that God is creating, the cosmos as it should be, God’s kingdom fully visible and touchable. The place of all our hopes and dreams, filled with God’s servants. And that includes humanity—healed of our sin and evil, grown into the fullness of the children of God.
That will be a time and place where God “will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4 ESV). The labor will be ended, and the new life begun. That’s worth hoping for.
THE PRAYER: Dear Father, as we suffer, help us to hope in You. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
Used by permission from International Lutheran Laymen’s League, all rights reserved
1. What other kinds of pain do you welcome, because they have a good outcome?
2. What specifically are you most looking forward to, when God’s kingdom comes in all its fullness?
3. How do you hold on to hope in dark times?