“But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter.” (Matt. 24:20) I have resided in places on this planet that full well fit the analogy of these words by our Savior, places where if one is outside for more than just a few minutes without the proper clothing, you will die. Every believer who has been blessed by the Lord to see what is approaching understands the severity of this one simple sentence He spoke, if the electricity stops, if natural gas stops flowing, there will be little more to do than what? “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.” (1 Peter 5:10)
This is one of the main things that is to set us apart, the believer in Christ and the lost, while they fear, we rejoice, while they continue to expound on the possibility that everything is going to get much worse, we comfort each other with these words, (1 Thess. 4:18) while they prepare to herd all the cattle into the pen, we look up, for our redemption draws nigh. (Luke 21:28) I have seen the fear in their eye, the only thing visible behind their masks, I have heard the trebling in their voices, watched as the anger and frustration begins to coalesce into violent, frightened mobs, and I rejoice.
If the Lord determines that you are to experience some of the raindrops that are coming, rejoice, if He decides it is in the winter that you are to experience some of the sufferings, rejoice. Only those who know full well the assurance of their salvation, only those who can contemplate the reality of the eternity that awaits His children, only those who believe fully that Christ will return for His church before the great and terrible day of the Lord begins can rejoice in all these things. Moments of anxiousness are not sin; time spent in doubt is. The testing of our faith in Christ is not for His knowledge, it is always for us, the One who inhabits the unbounded now can be shown nothing new, we are the ones who need to be shown where our true faith lies, and then what we will do in it in those most difficult times.
It is quite easy to speak certain words, to hold certain convictions when there is plenty of food in the cupboards and the sun is providing a warm day, but when the winter winds blow, when the temperature is far below freezing, and the only way we can see to continue to exist is to acquiesce to the will of the world, life takes on a different meaning for most. What then? “There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.” (Psalm 91:10) Many who profess Christ run an admirable race, right up until just a few feet from the finish line, when the traps are clearly seen, when the trouble begins to hit the hardest, when the adversary offers a warm place and hot food, “Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life.” (Job 2:4)
Job did not know what was coming and he did not know why, yet in all this he did not lose his integrity towards God (Job 1:22) we know what is approaching, and we know why, we have as believers no excuses, our hearts should have been prepared for these days from the moment of our salvation. Now the question my friends, what will you give for your life, are you envisioning imprisonment for your faith, perhaps torture and death, being ostracized from all who know you because you have determined not to accept the way of the world, but to submit to the will of God. How about a night of below freezing temperatures, no place to find shelter, and hearing in the distance the sound of laughter, seeing the warm glow of warmth from the structure that you also may enter, simply put on the mask, simply accept the injection, simply renounce Him whom you say you serve, and all this and more can be yours.
The choice of the amount of the faith which we serve has always been left up to us, Almighty God forces virtue on no man, the question remains then, to what extent are you willing to partake in the fellowship of His suffering. (Phil. 3:10) Some will fold quite quickly, in fact, many already have, others will last a little longer, but the needs of the flesh can for some be overpowering, some will not love their lives to the end. I do not know how many have determined in their hearts throughout the ages to love not their lives to the end, and to fulfill that determination, but I believe it is much fewer than we may think, most have flowing words on those warm, summer days, but in the dead of winter when the electricity goes out, we tend to think a little differently.
The world welcomes all who will but renounce His Holy name, for now it is nothing more than putting on a mask and locking the church doors, soon it will become much, much more than that. “But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.” (James 5:12) Words only have great meaning when there is integrity to back them up.
“Exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” (Heb. 10:25)