And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.
When I was a child, the book of Revelation scared the socks off of me. I remember praying that I would not be alive to see that “time of trouble, such as never has been.” I didn’t want to see the fear and the violence. I didn’t want to see the return of Jesus.
Now I pray that Jesus would come quickly and begin the judgment Daniel writes of.
What changed? First, as I grew older, I came to understand that I can’t escape fear and violence. I will never live in a world in which I won’t be afraid of some things at some times. I will always learn of new instances of violence on the television. There will always be wars. Diseases will spread. Parents will do horrible things to their children and vice versa. We simply cannot escape these things.
Closing our eyes and ignoring the wickedness in the world doesn’t make it go away. It is still there and it will still touch each of us.
Only one thing can rid the world of sin and violence and tears—Jesus. On that day when Jesus returns, he gets rid of the violence. He abolishes the fear. He kills death and disease. When Jesus returns, parents and children won’t do horrible things to one another anymore and all wars will cease. The thing I feared the most about Jesus returning (all the human suffering) was the exact thing he was returning to abolish.
Second, I came to understand that Jesus’ return for Christians is not a fearful thing. Jesus isn’t coming to punish me. Jesus isn’t coming to make me cower in fear. Jesus isn’t coming to humiliate me. When Jesus comes, he comes to glorify me. Jesus comes to declare me innocent. Jesus comes to give me eternal life. He comes to welcome me as his beloved friend and show heavenly hospitality to me forever.
Now that I have children, I pray for Jesus’ quick return for their sake. I don’t want them (or you) to experience any more pain, danger, or sadness. When Jesus returns, their eternal happiness finally begins.
O Lord, by your bountiful goodness release us from the bonds of our sins, which by reason of our weakness we have brought upon ourselves, that we may stand firm until the day of our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you on the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen