From the time I was a little girl, I remember my parents talking to me about the trials and persecution that will come upon God’s people in the last days. I remember reading the stories of Christian martyrs like the Waldenses, John Wycliffe, Huss and Jerome, and others who faithfully stood for Jesus and paid the ultimate sacrifice in giving up their lives. Their undaunted courage and faith inspired me, and I’ve always prayed that God will give me that same courage if I’m ever asked to face death because of my faith. And yet for most of my life here in the West, I’ve been surrounded by peace, not persecution. And I never really thought too much about what it might look like to suffer for my faith.
However, in recent years we’ve seen things changing in our world as never before. From the health crisis that has affected every country this past year, to the political unrest everywhere, to the increase in immorality, and to the religious persecution that is on a steep rise especially against those who stand for Biblical truth, all these things have really made me realize the shortness of time. It’s also made me rethink my own spiritual readiness. Am I truly ready for the overwhelming surprise that is soon to break upon the world? Am I prepared to stand strong for Jesus when I’m falsely accused, and when the whole world seems against me? As I’ve thought about these questions I realized the answer was “no.” I’m not ready!
One day, a number of months ago, as I thought about my own spiritual weaknesses, I started praying that God would prepare me for the coming crisis, and that He would specifically prepare me to stand strong in the face of religious persecution. Well, let me say, be careful what you pray for because you just might get it. Basically all of the sudden things started happening in my life that I would never have expected. Suddenly I found myself in situations, not of my own making, where I began to experience some painful and rather unexpected religious persecution. While I was seeking to serve the Lord and stay faithful to His Word, I found my character being assassinated, lies being told about me, and my reputation being attacked as I’ve never experienced before. Some who I’ve trusted and been close to, even turned against me and told me that I could not possibly be saved because of my strange beliefs that I was clinging to, and that I needed to let these strange beliefs go before it was too late. The attacks just kept coming and for a few months, I felt like I could hardly keep my head above water.
Seeing My Desperate Need for Jesus
“Why Lord, are all these things happening?” I cried. “It makes no sense. I haven’t done anything to deserve these attacks!” Then one day it hit me. Hadn’t I been praying to be made strong? God was in indeed answering my prayer by giving me a small glimpse of what it’s like to be persecuted for doing good and for standing for truth. He was also showing me my own weaknesses and my desperate need for even more of Him. And why should I ever be surprised by the trials. The Bible says, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you” (1 Peter 4:12). What I should have been surprised about is that I haven’t experienced more religious persecution sooner. This should surprise us all actually!
"The apostle Paul declares that 'all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution' (2 Timothy 3:12). Why is it, then, that persecution seems in a great degree to slumber? The only reason is that the church has conformed to the world’s standard and therefore awakens no opposition. The religion which is current in our day is not of the pure and holy character that marked the Christian faith in the days of Christ and His apostles. It is only because of the spirit of compromise with sin, because the great truths of the word of God are so indifferently regarded, because there is so little vital godliness in the church, that Christianity is apparently so popular with the world. Let there be a revival of the faith and power of the early church, and the spirit of persecution will be revived, and the fires of persecution will be rekindled.”1
I believe that God is waking up His people in mercy by these small trials so that we can get ready and be prepared for what is soon to come. Spiritual persecution is increasing on all fronts, and it’s getting closer and closer to home. Rather than being fearful, let’s rejoice and lift up our heads, knowing that our redemption draweth nigh. Remember, the same God who gave courage and strength to the early church martyrs will give us strength as well when we need it (Deuteronomy 33:25). But we need to prepare ourselves and our families. How? By preparing our hearts!
“Christians should be preparing for what is soon to break upon the world as an overwhelming surprise, and this preparation they should make by diligently studying the Word of God and striving to conform their lives to its precepts.”2 “None but those who have fortified the mind with the truths of the Bible will stand through the last great conflict.”3
Call to Action
You see, the key to preparing to die in the future is learning to die today. Daily we die to self, to our agenda, to our dreams and plans, to the call of the world. Daily we seek to live only to Christ. Then, as we study His Word, lay up His promises in our hearts (this is the best stockpiling!), and learn to live by faith through prayer (spending much time in prayer, wrestling for the salvation of others), we will grow stronger and stronger, clinging to Jesus. The days ahead aren’t going to be easy. Let’s not whitewash reality. But God promises He will see us through if we cling to Him. Let’s not wait until we are in the fire to learn these lessons of faith and trust. Let’s learn them today! It’s time to get ready, Jesus is coming soon!
All scripture taken from the King James Version.
- Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy (Mountain View, California: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1911), 48.
- Ellen G. White, Last Day Events (Boise, ID: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1992), 66.
- Ibid, 66.