HE TOLD US AHEAD OF TIME
When we were with you, we kept telling you in advance that we were going to suffer affliction, and so it came to pass, as you know. I Thess. 3:4
Paul had told his converts repeatedly that suffering would be in his future. He didn’t want them caught unaware lest their expectations of what it meant to follow Christ be shaken. Jesus had warned his disciples, too. He had told them about their future. He said, “These things I have spoken to you, that you may be kept from stumbling.” (John 16:1)
When we listen to a legitimate alert, then change course to prepare ourselves, we are being responsible with the truth. However, when we wince and then turn our back on the prediction, there can only be a tragic outcome. We may find a hundred seemingly legitimate reasons to discount the warning; making ourselves feel better temporarily. Oh, what we’ll do for a little comfort. But in the long run, we’ve done ourselves harm.
The Bible is a mixture of good news/bad news for any who live on earth. God tells each of us, “I love you.” But then he adds, “Because I love you, you will be hated by others.” Our preference is to hear the first and ignore the second. We live as though this world holds all the promises of heaven.
I don’t live there yet, though everyday I try to pretend that I do. My expectations of what I think life should be like here only set me up for extreme disappointment. The irony is, when life is imperfect, I then get angry at God. Yet, Jesus was the one who told me that life here would be full of trouble. It was that way for Him. It is that way for me.
God loves me enough to give me a roadmap for the wilderness of life. The journey has some beautiful vistas and incredible joys along the way. The roadway is also beset with danger. Wolves lurk, plagues threaten, and I must travel armed. At the end though, danger is eradicated as I step into the next world. Life will be perfect. But not yet. May realistic expectations keep me from stumbling.
Jesus, You have spoken plainly to Your children but I have often not listened. I hear You, take Your words in deeply, and adjust my expectations. Hard times are in my future and I am listening for how to prepare. Amen