And working together [with Him,] we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain-- for He says, "AT THE ACCEPTABLE TIME I LISTENED TO YOU, AND ON THE DAY OF SALVATION I HELPED YOU." Behold, now is "THE ACCEPTABLE TIME," behold, now is "THE DAY OF SALVATION"-- giving no cause for offense in anything, so that the ministry will not be discredited, but in everything commending ourselves as servants of God, in much endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses, in beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger, in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love, in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left, by glory and dishonor, by evil report and good report; [regarded] as deceivers and yet true; as unknown yet well-known, as dying yet behold, we live; as punished yet not put to death, as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things.
2 Corinthians 6:1-10 (NASB)
Hymn: "O God, Our Help in Ages Past" Isaac Watts, William Croft
I find myself unable to accept the doctrine of a Pre-Tribulation rapture. I used to hold to it, when I was a kid and attended a church where it was a given, but when I set out to start testing my beliefs this one fell away pretty quickly. My abandonment of that doctrine was heavily influenced by disagreements with my peers about whether or not it appears in scripture, but even beyond that, I find it inconsistent with the character of the God that makes Himself known throughout the Bible.
My wife and I spent much of our morning looking into some missions agencies, and one of them included a certain view of Dispensationalism in their statement of faith. After this, I did my daily reading, and found myself reminded of the character traits that gave me pause about the whole affair to begin with. Apparently this was going to be a theme today.
It’s remarkable that in all his writings, Paul’s prayers for his friends contain no appeals for changes in their circumstances.
God is not in the habit of removing His people from trouble anywhere else in scripture. Noah had protection, but went through the same flood everyone else did. The Hebrew people did not leave Egypt until God was done judging it. The prophets received the full weight of the people's rejection, and persecution has never fully been absent from the global church.
Jesus promises His people that they will have trouble. God never promises to remove us from trouble, but rather that He will be with us through it. Too often, we try to find rest in the idea that God will eventually fix things, that He will eventually remove us from our circumstances. And while it is true that God will restore all things in the end, that He is victorious over all our troubles and will someday set all things right, that is not our primary source of hope. Our hope is that God is with us, now, and will be through any trial and tribulation we face. Not only do we have the promise that troubles will come, and that He will be with us through those troubles, but we have clear statements that God is most glorified in these times and will use them to help us grow in our walk with Him. When we seek an escape rather than the growth waiting for us, we miss the point of our trials entirely and mistake the purpose God has for trouble.
Consider the book of Esther. We tend to note that it is unique among Biblical texts in that it never overtly mentions God, but talk less often about how God is pervasive throughout the entire story. He is there the whole time, placing His people at key places, protecting His chosen agents, answering prayer. Esther herself recognizes her dependence on God by asking the people to fast and pray for her before she takes any action. She is constantly in communication with her people and leaning on God to bring her through.
Our hope in tribulations doesn't need to lie in some idea that God will remove us before it gets worse. Because even when we don't see God, even when He is not overt, we know that He has promised to never leave us. Our hope is in the God who is here, now, and will continue to be here even when the worst days come.
Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Copyright by The Lockman Foundation