When we comfort loved ones going through suffering, we tend to focus on the here and now. We encourage the sick with the hope of restored health. We encourage the unemployed with the hope of finding a job. We encourage the imprisoned with the hope of release. While helpful and encouraging, these things stop short of our ultimate hope, the hope that Jesus gave the disciples.
In Luke 21, Jesus responds to a question about the signs of the end, “…they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. This will be your opportunity to bear witness” (Luke 21:12-13).
Later in the same passage, Jesus concludes, “But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that are going to take place and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:36). Here, Jesus calls the disciples to live watchful lives of continuous prayer and points them to their ultimate hope, salvation on the last day.
Have you ever considered how these words must have landed on the disciples? Jesus paints them a bleak picture, assuring them their futures would include persecution and difficulty.