“Dr. Smith…I have some bad news.”
The pathology resident slunked forward to face our professor. He held up a broken microscope slide which belonged to our professor’s study set. Our professor eyed the slide and declared, “You broke my slide, I charge you $50!” Our professor then held up an unbroken slide from his study set. “If you break a second slide, I will charge you $100!”
“Dr. Smith, you can’t do that!” One of the other residents protested.
Ignoring the statement, the professor rose to his feet. “And if you break a third slide during your residency, I will fire you! No competent pathologist should break three slides. If you do, you are too clumsy and should find a new career!”
The professor was dead serious. This was over thirty-five years ago and I was a medical student rotating in a surgical pathology elective. Times were different and it is unlikely that such punitive measures would ever be allowed in today’s pathology training programs. Nonetheless, his point was well-taken. I have recounted this story to generations of residents only to emphasize the point of being extra careful when handling microscope slides, particularly if they are a part of someone else’s treasured study set library.
In nearly every occupation, an older generation will regale the younger with tales of how tough they had it compared to this current generation. Undoubtedly, this current generation will probably do the same to their trainees. “When I was your age…” will inevitably lead to eyes rolling with the listener. This is why the stern prophecy of Jesus Christ to His followers was so surprising.
You are going to hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, because these things must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these events are the beginning of labor pains. Then they will hand you over to be persecuted, and they will kill you. You will be hated by all nations because of my name. Then many will fall away, betray one another, and hate one another.
Matthew 24:6-10 (CSB)
Wait, what? But Jesus, I thought You were going to overthrow the Romans who have oppressed us? I thought You were going to be our King? The disciples were probably thinking these thoughts as Jesus delivered this stern warning. Jesus’ message was not a retrospective one, emphasizing how times were much worse in the past. Instead, He emphatically told them that the future times will become much worse. Wars, famines, earthquakes, and persecution for all who believe in His Name.
Jesus’ prophecy was relevant for the times of the disciples after He died,was resurrected, and ascended to Heaven. Nearly all of the remaining disciples were martyred. The city of Jerusalem and the great temple were destroyed. The prophecy is also relevant for our current time. Christians are still persecuted for their faith and belief in Jesus Christ. There are numerous wars and rumors of wars, with terrorist attacks and cyber terrorism. Famines and natural disasters abound leading to millions of people being displaced. We are much closer to the last days than many of us would like to believe. The times are getting worse, just as Jesus Christ prophesied. Jesus did not tell us this so that we would despair and give up. He was preparing us to understand the cost of following Him as our Lord and Savior. And He gave us these promises.
But the one who endures to the end will be saved. This good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed in all the world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
Matthew 24:13-14 (CSB)
I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.
John 16:33 (CSB)
If anyone else told me how things were much more difficult when they were younger, I, like my residents, would probably roll my eyes. Jesus Christ told us that things will be more difficult in the future. Anyone living today would find very little reason to dispute His prophecy. Yet, there is hope.
Place your faith and trust in Jesus Christ. What was true two thousand years ago is still true today and for eternity.
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.