And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us.( I John 4:15-19)
And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.( Romans 5:5-8)
I, like multitudes of other Pastors, teachers, and leaders in the church, have been seeking God for ways to let God’s flock know that difficult times are descending upon us, and that the relative tolerance and acceptance of Christianity in our culture is giving way to a season of hatred and even persecution. Anyone in tune with the Holy Spirit at all, knows this and is trying to prepare people for it.
The question is, How will we be prepared for it? What does preparedness look like?
I want to dedicate the next few articles to this subject and hopefully this will spark a wider discussion.
First of all, though, I seek to ‘cut to the chase’ as they say, and give you a simple answer to this question. the only ones who will make it through this season with their faith and integrity intact are those who Love the LORD. Only Loving God can make us ready and bring us through.
Usually I resort to a lot of scripture, (and rightly so) , and of course I will be providing scriptural answers to these questions, in this article and the rest, but first I will point to a sterling example of people who went through similar changes and wrote about them, in a classic book called “The Hiding Place”, by Corrie Ten Boom.
This book is not fiction it is a real account of Dutch Christians who underwent a rapid transition in their day, from the civilized world of Holland in the early years of the twentieth century, into the Gathering storm of Naziism and eventually occupation by the German Army.
The Ten Booms teach us something about ‘preparedness’ and ‘getting through tribulation’. One of the prime lessons is this, the family simply loved God. (How else does one ‘prepare’ for Nazi invasion and occupation, and eventually imprisonment)?.
I have never read of a more saintly example of a godly man, than the patriarch of the family, Caspar Ten Boom. He was a skilled artisan, a watchmaker, a man who knew no strangers, helped orphans and widows, and He loved the Bible, constantly having devotions and Bible studies for his family and employees.
Ten Boom’s two spinster daughters, Corrie and Betsey lived with him, and they too were skilled in watch repair. There was a wider family as well, all of them Christian, and who had ‘caught’ their Father’s love for God.
When the Nazis came and occupied the city where they lived ,(Haarlem), the opportunities were presented to them to save the Jews, whom the Nazis were hunting down and shipping away to slave labor and death camps.
This is not a book report, (although I highly recommend the book), but suffice it to say that what has always struck me about these very ordinary people, the extraordinary risks they took and the huge price they would pay for those risks , was that they did it seemingly without hesitation, because they Loved God.
The Nazis eventually caught the old man and his two spinster daughters and arrested them. After helping the ailing Caspar TenBoom climb into the transport to the prison, the Nazi officer offered leniency and mercy if he would but renounce helping the Jews, the Gestapo told him they would release him because of his age so that he could “die in his own bed”. He replied: “If I go home today, tomorrow I will open my door to anyone who knocks for help”.
This man died in prison, but maintained his faith and his testimony. He loved his God. One of his daughters died in a squalid prison also, but proved to have been ‘ready’, for she too loved God. His other daughter, Corrie, also overcame the hatred, fear and bitterness of the experience and has helped millions to come to know the God of Love, in spite of her suffering, because she too Loved God. They knew and believed in the LOVE of God.
It is Love that will bring us through, Love for God and the resulting love for our neighbor.
“No, don’t hate Corrie…” While in a concentration camp in Germany, Betsie ten Boom was becoming frail. One day while doing heavy manual labor, she kindly said to her guard, “Don’t give me more to do than I am trying to do already, because I am not strong enough to lift these heavy parts.” The guard flashed back, “You don’t decide what you do. I decide.” At that, the guard brutally beat Betsie. Corrie ten Boom, her sister, watched and was enraged. When the guard left, Corrie went over to Betsie who now had blood all over her face. Betsie immediately said, “No, don’t hate, Corrie. You must love and forgive.”Corrie knew that she was unable. That night she went for a walk and told the Lord that she could not forgive “that brutal woman.” The Lord reminded her of a Scripture, “God’s love had been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.” (Romans 5:5) Corrie knew that what she was unable to do, the Lord, in her, was able to do.She writes, “At that moment, when I was able to forgive, my hatred disappeared. What a liberation! Forgiveness is the key that unlocks the door of resentment and the handcuffs of hatred. It is a power that breaks the chains of bitterness and the shackles of selfishness. What a liberation when you can forgive.”- Adapted from Oh How He Loves You, by Corrie ten Boom#OhHowHeLovesYoutenboom.org
I have been thinking much of the example these saints hav set for us, and have come to the conclusion , that the fact that they truly and deeply loved God was what brought them through.
I realize that this may sound obvious and too simplistic for some, but this is the ‘Word’ I have been getting lately.
Everything that is truly spiritual , presupposes a loving relationship with God, through the Blood of Jesus. All that we are supposed to rely upon; Faith, the promises of God, grace to persevere through our trials, the armor of God, are based upon “Knowing and Believing the Love God has towards us, for God is Love”. If God be for us, who can be against us?
Our trials do not give us anything nor do they take anything away from us. The function of trials is that they reveal what is in us, or what isn’t in us…. . The Love of God in us, as a reality which is ongoing, vital and which elicits a true heartfelt response from us, is what makes us ‘ready to face the darkness which is coming.
As the Apostle John tells us, “We Love Him because He first loved us…” ( I John 4:19)