So often the news tends to focus on the bad. And in reading the Bible we know that things will get worse as the end approaches (2 Tim 3:12; 2 Thes 2:1-3). "Famines, pestilence and earthquakes of staggering proportions will occur. Wars and intrigue will fill the earth. Hate will bind the hearts of men. No one will feel secure. As moral integrity breaks down, apostasy in the Church will increase. Those who do not conform to the spirit of the age will be hard pressed, and many will be martyred. (As you are reading this, many examples of these truths have probably come to mind.) Clearly, the cost of discipleship will be high. Yet, amid this terrible adversity, Scripture indicates that revival will sweep across the earth...the terrors will actually create an environment for earnest heart searching," (Robert E. Coleman).
We are seeing this today in countries like China, Iran and Vietnam, where greater persecution of Christians is leading to greater growth in the Church! "Through the purging of revival, God's people will be brought to the true beauty of holiness. Our Lord expects to present His bride unto Himself 'a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless,' (Eph 5:27; 1 Jn 3:2-3; 2 Cor 7:1; 1 Pet 1:13-16; 3:4). The trials of the last days will serve as fires to refine the gold of Christian character. A purified Church will be able to receive unhindered the power of the outpoured Spirit, and thereby more boldly enter into the mission of Christ" (Coleman).
God has never promised that He would save every Christian from suffering on this earth. That belief is easy to come by in the relatively safe Church of America but is not found in the Church in much of the rest of the world. Instead, Jesus promised His followers hardship at every turn. But in that hardship, He also promised to be with us, to refine us, and to use us for His glory and to draw others to Himself. We must not fear the affliction but understand it when it comes. This is a message for the Church in America! I believe our time of ease may be soon over. We, as a Church, need to prepare to suffer affliction as our brothers and sisters in Christ are doing throughout the world. And we must not fear this affliction but see it for what it is - a means for growing the Church of Christ, growing closer to the Lord on an individual level and ultimately glorifying Him as we show the world that our Lord and Savior, who suffered for us, is worth suffering and dying for!
But in this suffering is the hope of a coming world revival! People who are full of the Holy Spirit as a result of their suffering, are committed to God's work. Do you know where there is a huge movement of people to bring the Gospel to the Muslims...China! A country of great persecution is burning with the desire to see those, lost in a religion of great persecution (Islam), come to Christ. An example of this is the ministry Back to Jerusalem. You can learn more about them at http://www.backtojerusalem.com/ When you go to the website you may notice that the pictures of many of the Christian leaders of this movement need to be obscured so as to protect them from a government who would like to destroy them. Where is this same passion for the Muslims in America? I believe that passion often comes with persecution, thus we see that the persecution that God allows His church to undergo is not in vain. It has a purpose!
I believe that God's passion to get out the message of Jesus to the lost nations of this world will increase. You are reading this blog and I am writing this blog because He is growing in us a passion for the lost! Be encouraged that the greatest day of evangelism, what Joel 2:23, Hos 6:3, Zech 10:1 and James 5:7 refer to as the "latter rain," is before us. "The harvesting may be short in duration and may require enormous sacrifice, but it will be the most far-reaching acceptance of the Gospel this world has ever seen. The massive turning of Christ by people from the four corners of the earth will prepare the way for the coming of the King," (Coleman)
"Anticipation of our Lord's return is a summons to action. We must cast off anything that blocks the flow of the Holy Spirit and commit ourselves to being about the Father's business. World evangelization now is the responsibility around which our lives should be centered. Whatever our gifts, we are all needed in the witness of the Gospel," (Coleman).
Let's make this more personal for a moment. What trials are you facing in your life right now? For me, I struggle with the day-to-day challenges of raising a family of six, homeschooling, meeting the needs of my husband and involvement in outside organizations. When the daily trials occur, it is so easy to forget all about the Lord and act in the flesh...to get irritated, angry and then feel guilty. But what if I asked God for a new perspective? What if I asked Him to help me see the trials He allows in my daily life as ways to be purified in Him? As opportunities to pray more, trust more and grow more in the grace and knowledge of Jesus? He may be using the daily struggles of motherhood (or fatherhood, work, singleness, etc.) as periods of refinement to grow compassion and patience in us, compassion that may one day extend beyond our own homes to the nations; patience that may one day be manifested in mission work for the Lord.
Through the daily struggles and as we anticipate a coming world revival, prayer is our greatest resource. We need to be asking God daily, how do you want to use me? Who should I be praying for? What are You doing in the world and how can I get involved?
"Something great is on the horizon. You can almost feel it in the air. Though forces of evil are becoming more sinister and aggressive, there is a corresponding cry for spiritual awakening. Across the world, never has there been more yearning by more people for spiritual reality, nor has the Church ever had the means it now has to take the glad tidings of salvation to the lost, unreached people of the earth. What a day to be alive!
Certainly this is a not a time for despair. The King's coming is certain. And in preparation for His return we may be the very generation that will see the greatest movement of revival since the beginning of time!" (Coleman)