This morning, I encountered this paragraph, while having my morning’s devotion:
“The time of trouble was upon us. I saw our people in great distress, weeping and praying, pleading the sure promises of God, while the wicked were all around us mocking us and threatening to destroy us. They ridiculed our feebleness, they mocked at the smallness of our numbers, and taunted us with words calculated to cut deep. They charged us with taking an independent position from all the rest of the world. They had cut off our resources so that we could not buy or sell, and they referred to our abject poverty and stricken condition. They could not see how we could live without the world. We were dependent on the world, and we must concede to the customs, practices, and laws of the world, or go out of it. If we were the only people in the world whom the Lord favored, the appearances were awfully against us.”
“The appearances were awfully against us” struck me when I consider the life of Christ and what He went through toward the end of His experience, on our behalf. For all what He claimed, and those who were associated with Him claimed, it didn’t look good to those who were observing Him. Rome was large in comparison. The differing groups, Pharisees and Sadducees were large in comparison to Him, and although He had done good, helped people, made good speeches, the fact of the matter is, things weren’t looking too good for Him now. Whatever He said might have thrilled the heart, but hearing those hammers banging those nails into His flesh caused another emotion. Maybe He wasn’t all He said it was. Where’s the proof now?
Such will be our experience as we enter the “Time of Trouble”. Looking at our numbers, those who keep the Commandments of God as compared to those who claim to be church-goers and lovers of God, they are no different than the world which never confessed Him. Both were too large and powerful and it would appear right was on their side. They had the power to drag those who are Commandment-keepers from the comfort of their homes, to lose their employment, to imprison them, persecute them and execute them upon will, and yet we’re supposed to stand in spite of it all! So, yes, if we claimed we are the people whom God favors, all indicators would seem we were wrong. Our very appearance would dictate something is wrong with our thinking, and what will we do to change our circumstances?
I think people have no clue what it will be like. The other day I recommended to a friend to read “Foxes Book of Martyrs” to give them an idea of what persecution and execution was like. We’re to face these times again, and many really just have no clue. So many of us compromise with God now in our daily life and believe it is possible to “bargain” with Him, and because of deprivation and pain will think we will be honored, by God, if we do so again for some relief of what we’re going through. Sadly, many will have lost out on heaven because they weren’t fully committed to the Message.
We should continue to study the life of Christ. We need to understand when these things are happening to us, they’re happening because the world, the false church, saw within us the same as they saw in Christ and we should be jubilant! Our joy should be greater than our pain. Our end result so much more preferred than our current situation. And, like Stephen, we should be able to look right over into the battlements of Heaven and see our King high and lifted up, smiling upon us, a balm of peace and tranquility to pass upon us while those who are causing us pain and discomfort, are doing so because we caused them the same with righteous lives and this is their only way to put that pain away from them!
Christ is ever our example, even unto death.
May 31, 2015