1Now as he was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Teacher, look at the sort of stones and the sort of buildings here!” 2But Jesus said to him, “Do you see this big buildings? Not one stone will be left upon another. They’ll all be destroyed.” — Mark 13:1-2
Last night after a conversation with Jody I stopped for a moment and said to her, â€œYou know, no matter what, we can always say we survived the last seven years, and that’s no small accomplishment.â€ She agreed. Now I don’t claim that I have been put upon like Job or that my troubles have been greater than anyone else’s. We have, in fact, been blessed in many ways, and right now is a time of growth with business and ministry improving by the day, always much more slowly than I’d like, but still better.
I objectively know of many people who have had it worse. A friend of mine has had everything he would have depended on pulled out from under him, and in his words, he hangs on by his fingernails. It’s a tough time for him, but I know that it is also a time of spiritual growth.
Now this is another non-exegetical devotional. I’ll get to preaching about this passage in its prophetic sense in my series of podcasts on Mark. But right now I want to use it in another sense. I’m thinking about our daily lives. How often have you looked and said, â€œLook at the kind of wonderful stones the structure of my life is built on?â€ For many of us that is a way of life. We have rock-solid preparations in every area of life. Finances, home, familyâ€”all are in order. I like to describe it as having one’s ducks in a row, quacking in unison. It’s a good feeling.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not against financial planning. I’m not against life planning. I’m not against church planning. There was the time when my ducks were in a row, and those duckies are in the process of lining up again right now. The quacking is a bit ragged but we’ll straighten them out soon enough!
But be wary of the moment went you look at your life and you say, â€œLook at the wonderful stones!â€ God may be looking at you and saying, â€œDo you see these stones? The time is coming when not one stone will be standing on another. All will be removed.â€ I’m not saying here that God has decreed disaster. But he may know of troubles ahead that you don’t know about, and can’t plan for. He may well allow you to live through those to see if, when all the stones have been removed, you are still capable of depending on him.
Job went through all that. In his case, the disasters looked pretty thoroughly directed. His life was left pretty much with no stone standing on another. But Job comes to the point of saying, â€œGod may kill me, but still I will trust himâ€ (Job 13:15 CEV). At the end, he repents, even though he never gets to find out why everything happened to him.
Now my purpose in writing this is not to make you shake and tremble and worry about whether God is going to get you. Rather, I’m guessing that there are some readers of this list who are facing the kind of events in your lives that make you question where you are. There may even be someone out there who is looking at their lives right now, and seeing â€œno stone left on another.â€ You may have gotten a bad diagnosis, or a business venture may have collapsed taking your financial security with it. Perhaps it is in your spiritual life. Has a leader fallen, someone on whom you placed your trust, but has now proven untrustworthy?
Let me remind you of a few things. First, you’re not alone. Others have been there before you. Find some folks in your local church (and if you don’t have a local church, find one!), and let them pray with you. E-mail me (email@example.com) or Jody (firstname.lastname@example.org) and ask for prayer. Second, God is still on the throne. Even in the worst of Job’s sufferings, when Job felt abandoned, God was still putting a limit on what the enemy could do to him. Third, know that testing produces good results. Job said he would â€œcome out like goldâ€ (Job 23:10).
2Count it all as joy, my brothers and sisters, when you fall into various types of trials, 3because you know that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4And let patience perform its complete work, so that you might be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. — James 1:2-4