In Romans 5 , Paul tells us that suffering produces hope in the long run. James 1:4 James sort of explains when he instructs us to “let perseverance finish its work in you”. I am no expert on suffering or any of the character traits Paul lists but I know Who is. When I left teaching I wondered if I were being punished for wrong doing or suffering persecution. I still am not clear on that. What I do know is that for the next few years I felt as if my soul was being steam rolled. By that I mean flattened by a piece of heavy equipment. In the end, I knew it was the work of the enemy because the temptation came to throw away my hope because it was so small. The good Lord pointed out that, even though small, it was still hope and if I had hope it was enough. The steam rolling was not over but at least I knew my soul would be with the Lord.
Toward the end of that time – two years before the end, I saw myself curled on the floor in a fetal position. I dreamed the Lord Jesus came and picked me up off of the floor, but I was angry with Him and shoved Him away. Thankfully, He persisted and I let Him take me into His arms. Then He breathed on me. Later I ran across the verse that says Jesus breathed on his disciples in John 20:22. Please forgive me for mistaking that this vision/dream was only for me and my encouragement. Wrong.
Yesterday I realized this is for the church. Again, let me distinguish between the bride of Christ and the organization calling itself the church. The only thing that will remain after all things have been shaken will be souls not buildings or programs. The point is, the Lord has and will again come for her [think Daniel Day Lewis’ character to in Last of the Mohicans via John Eldredge] and she will be His.
If you are reading this, this is for you. Paul tells us to go about our work quietly. So I will. But, someday you will need this and here it is. Take courage. Its over when He says its over and you still have hope.