Birth Pangs

This morning, I put on my nicest church clothes and drove to church, a.k.a. Dad’s basement, where Mom, Dad, and I watched our favorite worship songs on YouTube. One of those was “My Soul Longs,” the lyrics of which go like this: “My soul longs for the coming of the risen Lord,” and “He’s coming back for His bride–Hallelujah!”

It’s a song we’ve been singing at church for a couple years now, one of my mom’s favorites, and I sing heartily to it every time I hear it. But I don’t think I knew what I was saying until now.

This is how Jesus describes His own coming: “When you hear of wars and disturbances, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end does not follow immediately. Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be great earthquakes, and in various places plagues and famines; and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:9-10, 28).

I do not know when Jesus is coming back (actually, I think that’s the point…), whether this year or the next or a hundred years from now–would that it were today. But I do know what the world begins to look like before He does. This plague we are currently living under is what Jesus calls “merely the beginning of birth pangs” (Matthew 24:8). And when I long for His return, I must expect this earth to go through contractions, increasing in intensity and frequency until He arrives.

It’s not my habit to pray for calamity or tragedy or sickness or death, but I do pray for His return. And when I see birth pangs, I can either tremble with fear or tremble with excitement. Because the worse our world gets, the more imminent His return, and I long for His return. These are events that the world cannot help but sit up and pay attention to, and my prayer for this time is that we “straighten up and lift up [our] heads, because [our] redemption is drawing near.” Therefore, “my soul longs” for this exactly. For it is only ushering in “the coming of the risen Lord.” Who’s with me?