A professor of mine told me that there are two types of people when it comes to facing the darkness of life, or midnight of life—the owls and the roosters. The owl type persons would say, the night is dark, and it will only become darker; there will never be light again. The rooster type persons always look for the crack of dawn. The darker the night is, the more expectant they are for the dawn. They want to be the first to announce to the whole world that the morning has come, with a loud and long cockcrow.
What type of person are you? An owl or a rooster?
At the beginning of this week when the stock market did a sharp dive, I heard a commentator in the news saying that we are facing a recession and it will be worse than the Great Depression. However, other commentators reported that the fundamentals of the economy are great—the economic growth rate, the inflation rate, and the unemployment rate—are all in good shape and the market will go up, and the future is bright, at least for the next three years.
You know that the market did recover by the end of the week. As for the future, we have to wait and see whether those owls are right, or the roosters.
How do you interpret life when it goes through a downturn? Are you an owl that sees only the gloom and doom, or a rooster that believes there is always light at the end of the tunnel. Talking about the light at the end of the tunnel, I once passed by a shop that sells posters. One of the posters says, “To conserve energy, the light at the end of the tunnel is turned off.” I think the owl type person would love to buy that poster and hang it in their living room.
I have been through several darkest tunnels in my life since I was young, and I am sure you all have been as well. Sometimes those tunnels were so dark that I didn’t see any hope on the other side. But, relying on God’s grace, each time I passed through one of those tunnels, I ended up in a better place on the other end. However, I fully understand that the dark tunnels of life are agonizingly painful and they leave wounds and scars in life. Life is cycles of one dark tunnel after another. You are always at the beginning of a new dark tunnel, in the middle, or at the end of it.
Jesus wants you to be a rooster type person. When the disciples asked him when the Kingdom of God will completely replace this fallen world and end the sea of suffering, he said things would become worse before it becomes better. In other words, the whole world will go through a dark tunnel before we arrive at the new world of God’s kingdom. He compares these situations with the birth pangs as if God is like a mother giving birth to a new heaven and new earth. He says …
Lk 21:25, 28
“There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. … Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
Notice he says that when you see that the world is falling apart with disasters, diseases, depressions, and disputes, he wants you to raise your head and see the crack of dawn. In other words, he wants you to be a rooster—not only to see the first light but also to announce the coming of light with your cockcrow. He wants you to be the steward of hope and carrier of hope.
“Then he told them a parable: ‘Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near.’”
Christians are people of hope! We always look for signs of spring when the winter is cold. Whenever you feel depressed and disappointed, look for the sign of spring and summer. Even when there is no sign out in the world, read it in God’s Word. The Bible is the book of hope! For example, read the last chapters of the Bible—the last chapters of Revelation, you will be reminded that God is writing the last chapters of the universe and the ending is good!
Revelation 22:5 NRSV
And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.
That is from the closing chapter of the entire Bible. All’s well that ends well! No matter what kind of chaos you are going through right now, always remember that the end is good because it is under the control of the good God that brings chaos into order. In fact, God has been the God that brings order from chaos from the beginning of the Bible. If you look at the first verses of the Bible, it says that God brought from into the formlessness, life into lifelessness, and light into darkness. From Genesis to Revelation, God has been bringing order into chaos. So read God’s word because it is the only stability you will find. Everything else is shifting sand, as the hymn goes. Even heaven and earth are shifting. Jesus said in verse 33,
Luke 21:33 NRSV
Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
The recent couple of decades has been a wild ride of change. Twenty years ago, I had to pay three dollars for each minute of a phone call to my wife in Burma, and a few people had telephones. But today, I can talk to anyone around the world, live, face to face, on my smartphone that fits into my pocket, any time and any place. That’s a whole lot of change.
For those who miss dialing on the rotary phones, it seems like heaven and earth has passed away. Just like your rotary phone, Jesus said that the real heaven and earth will eventually pass away. The point is, nothing is stable at all, but everything is shifting. Read Jesus’ words to keep your equilibrium because that’s the only stability that exists. You need stability to keep your sanity.
If you don’t maintain your equilibrium, you will be swept away by the stormy sea of suffering. You must be on guard. Jesus said,
Luke 21:34–35 NRSV
“Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth.
You might ask, if Christians believe that we are saved by God’s grace through faith (Eph 2:8), then why is Jesus saying that day might catch us like a trap. As believers, wouldn’t we all be saved on that day? Yes, we are saved by faith, not by work, but our faith is shown in our fruit. So, when we let our heart weighted down, or get busy, by dissipation, drunkenness, and worries of this life, we are not bearing the fruit of our faith.
There’s a saying, “if Satan cannot make you bad, he will make you busy.” Busyness can take you off guard and let your faith shaken and swallowed by the sea of suffering.
Jesus concluded by advising us with two things to do to stay safe and be stewards of hope:
Luke 21:36 NRSV
Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
Two things: be alert and pray. Be alert at all times. Your job is to be like a rooster who is always alert for the crack of dawn. In fact, for Christians, the crack of dawn has already started at Easter, even though the sun is not yet seen. So your job is to sound the cockcrow to remind everyone that the light has come and to encourage them to keep their hope alive until the sun appears.
The second advice is, pray that you won’t be swallowed by this sea of suffering. Don’t let your cockcrow drawn out by the noises of the roaring sea. Paul said something like this, “I punish my body and enslave it, so that after proclaiming to others I myself should not be disqualified.” (1 Co 9:27). In the context, he is saying that, if you are not disciplined to keep your hope alive, you might announce the cockcrow to others but you yourself may be swept away.
So, be the steward of hope by staying alert and praying to keep hope alive. There’s light at the end of the tunnel. You know why? Because the fundamentals are good, but that’s the subject for another time.
Jesus is waiting for you there. You will stand before the Son of Man.
For now, your job is to be a steward of hope.
Until we meet again, keep crowing. Amen!