My Answer: Just when will Jesus return, anyway?

Q: If Jesus is going to return some day and make the world a better place, why doesn't he go ahead and do it? The world is so messed up that I can't understand why he doesn't return now. — F.R.H.

A: One of the Bible's greatest promises is that one day Jesus Christ will return — and when he does, all the evil we see around us will be destroyed and he will rule the world in perfect justice and peace. The Bible says, "In keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness" (2 Peter 3:13).

We can barely imagine what that new world will be like, but you can be sure it will be far more glorious than anything this world offers us right now. Diplomats negotiate peace treaties — only to see them broken. Humanitarian organizations try to meet the needs of those who suffer — only to be overwhelmed by new disasters or evil rulers. On a personal level, we seek security and happiness — only to have our hopes dashed by circumstances beyond our control.

But all that will be changed when Christ comes again. Evildoers will be judged; injustices will be made right; wars and conflicts will cease. The Bible says, "Then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming" (2 Thessalonians 2:8).

Why, then, is Christ's coming delayed? One reason, the Bible says, is because God wants to give as many people as possible an opportunity to repent and believe (see 2 Peter 3:9). Have you made your commitment to Christ? Don't delay, but put your faith and trust in him, and then make it your goal to live for him every day.

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Q: We prayed and prayed for my mother's cancer to be healed, and we really believed God was going to do it (as did she, for she had a strong faith). But he didn't, and we're devastated. Was it because we didn't have enough faith? — Mrs. A.J.

A: Don't blame yourself for what happened. Your mother didn't suffer and die because you didn't have enough faith. Instead, God graciously took her to her heavenly home — and that should give you great joy, in spite of your grief.

God certainly wants us to pray when loved ones face a health crisis — and we should pray in faith, believing that God is able to bring healing. And he is, because he is all-powerful and able to act in ways that are far beyond our understanding. (Remember, too, that he can use medicines, doctors and nurses to bring healing. After all, he gave them their abilities.)

But the Bible also tells us that we live in a fallen, sin-ravaged world — and eventually we all will die. When we know Christ, however, we need not fear death, for heaven awaits because of what Jesus Christ did for us. The Bible says, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23). Is your hope in him?

Although it may be hard for you to accept, in reality your prayers were answered and your mother was healed, for she is now in heaven. Her cancer is gone, and so is every suffering she endured on earth. Take time to thank God for what your mother meant to you, but thank God too that she is now in heaven, and that one day you'll see her again.

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Q: My husband is working on our income taxes for last year. Since he got paid in cash for some of the jobs he did, he's not going to include this income on his tax form. He claims the government would just waste the money anyway. He says everyone else cheats on their taxes, so why shouldn't we? Is he wrong? — Mrs. N.K.

A: Yes, your husband is wrong, and I hope he'll reconsider what he plans to do. If he gets caught, the penalties could be severe, but even if he doesn't, he still is failing to fulfill his obligations as a citizen.

But he isn't just wrong in the eyes of the law. He's also wrong in God's eyes. The Bible is clear: We have an obligation to pay our taxes, fully and completely. The Bible says, "Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor" (Romans 13:7). Remember: The first Christians lived in the Roman Empire, which was far from perfect (and even persecuted them at times). But God still called them to be honest and good citizens, and so should we.

The real issue is this, however: What place does Jesus Christ have in your lives? Is he someone you think about once a week, or just when you get into trouble? Or is he the Lord and Ruler of your lives? Face this question honestly, and then put your lives — including your money — into his hands. The Bible says, "Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves" (2 Corinthians 13:5).

In addition, thank God for the resources he's given you. Others in these hard economic times aren't as fortunate. The Bible says, "Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others" (1 Peter 4:10).

(Send your queries to "My Answer," c/o Billy Graham, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C., 28201; call 1-(877) 2-GRAHAM, or visit the Web site for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association: http://www.billygraham.org.)

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