Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and where have they come from?” I said to him, “My lord, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. – Revelation 7:13-14
No matter what you believe about the timing of the “Great Tribulation,” certain truths are not debatable. First, some Christ-followers will come out of or through it. Second, their number will be vast, too many to count. Third, they will come from every tribe or people group on earth. Finally, their suffering will end when they see Jesus.
Certainly, more can be said about this gathering of saints than I have said in these few lines. It is, of course, possible for a person to argue against the church being raptured after the events described, but even if this is true, each one of us must be prepared for the possibility that we may be asked to endure great suffering in service for Christ Jesus.
Paul wanted to know Christ, and this included the fellowship of His sufferings (Phil. 3:10). Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you (Matthew 5:10-11).”
So, I wonder. Is there even an inkling of a desire to truly know Christ if there is not an accompanying willingness to endure His reproach?
The truth that many people never understand, until it is too late, is that the more you try to avoid suffering the more you suffer because smaller and more insignificant things begin to torture you in proportion to your fear of being hurt. – Thomas Merton
Dr. David Pope is President and Founder of POPE Initiatives, a non-profit organization committed to providing executive-level management and support services for major global mission efforts.
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