In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus seems to be tearing every hope away from his listeners (and us!) The Jewish Temple, the symbol of God’s presence with the Jewish nation will be destroyed. Global peace is not imminent – instead nation will continue to rise up against nation, and there will be wars and insurrections. There will be natural disasters: earthquake, famine, plagues. In our time, we might think of bush fires and droughts. Jesus warns that things will not be any better for his followers.
If we’re hoping that through human ingenuity or religious piety we will be able to overcome disasters, Jesus tells us to think again. God’s plan for a new creation is not to take us away from suffering and magic everything better. Instead, our hope is that God will bring us through suffering, to the other side. What Jesus describes happening to his followers is precisely what he himself went through. In the midst of suffering we are able to testify to the hope that we have in Jesus: the one who has come through disaster, suffering, and ultimately death. He has promised to remain with us and through him we participate in the final promised resurrection life, even as history continues on.