In Luke chapter 21 Jesus’ disciples began to question Him about the future. As He related to them some of the details of how difficult these “last days” would be the disciples wanted to know when these things would happen and what signs would come as warnings. In verses 8 through 18 Jesus detailed some of these signs. Even those who rarely read their Bibles are familiar with some of these: people claiming to be the Christ, wars and commotions, nations and kingdoms rising against each other, earthquakes, famines, pestilences, persecutions, etc. Jesus also warned that even friends and relatives will betray their kin and followers of Christ will be hated.
Personally, I don’t think we’ve reached the worst of these days yet, but we can certainly see the beginnings of them. Eschatologists call the period of time “the tribulation” or “the great tribulation”. I hold to the belief that Jesus will come and rapture the believers out first before God’s wrath is finally let loose.
In verse 19 Jesus gave a synopsis of how we should ready ourselves for the challenges ahead. He said, “By your patience possess your souls.” Obviously that is an admonition for today. I’m now 64 years old. I could never have imagined that – in my lifetime – the world around me would have deteriorated to its present state. But here it is! By your patience possess your souls. What did Jesus mean by that?
Allow me to break down the important words.
“Patience” is the translation of the Greek word HUPOMONE. It means to remain consistent and constant, especially in trying times. It is the opposite of cowardice and despondency. It is related to HOPE. Hope is an expectation of good. Biblical hope confidently expects what the Bible says to be the truth. Even when things look bleak the Christian operating in patience (and therefore hope) continues to live right. He doesn’t quit or even coast. He doesn’t murmur or complain. He reads his Bible, prays consistently, participates in church and kingdom life, and looks for opportunities to share his confidence with others. Patience is the inward spiritual force that will more than sustain us in these last days.
According to scripture the only way to keep our “patience tank” full is to adopt an attitude of joy even when surrounded by trials. The apostle James in instructing us to “count it all joy” said that in doing so we would be allowing patience to have her perfect work. [See James 1:2-4] So, the price of gas goes up …again, but we choose the attitude of patience – I’ll be fine! My Father God loves me. He takes good care of me. The TV news reports escalations of terrorist threats, but we sleep well at night because God has assigned angels to us for our protection. You see, it’s a mind-set – a choice. God said it; I believe it; that settles it!
“Possess” is another important word. It literally means to acquire or procure a thing for oneself. Since here Jesus was talking about our souls, He is instructing us to not let our souls be kidnapped by the trying times but instead to use the force of patience to acquire, procure and take possession of our souls for ourselves.
As you probably already know, “soul” is an English translation of the Greek word PSUCHE. This word refers to the psychological part us, specifically the mind, will and emotions. We are spirit beings. We have souls. We live in (physical) bodies. At the new birth our spirits were reborn in a micro-second. Our bodies have yet to be fully redeemed but our souls must be renewed. The renewing of our souls requires the cooperation of the Holy Spirit, the Word of God and us. In patience choose not to quit or complain but allow the Holy Spirit in you to plant the Word of God deep in your soul. As this work continues you will come to rely more and more on what God has said rather than what’s reported on CNN.
Patience and faith are our “power twins”, giving us the fortitude to overcome no matter the trial. The writer of Hebrews tells us to imitate people who by these forces have obtained the promises of God. [Hebrews 6:12]
Don’t allow your soul – your mind, will and emotions – to be kidnapped by the world’s system. Possess it – take it – with the force of patience!