But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober.
1 Thessalonians 5:4-6
Oh what a great reminder this was to me on days that I am tempted to be a little lazy, spiritually speaking! It was also a great encouragement at this time when the days seem to darken around me. Each new day seems to bring more horrifying news from other countries as well as from my own: Christians brothers and sisters being beheaded, being run from their homes, being tortured or imprisoned. Sex trafficking, not only overseas but in a community so close in proximity to my own that I am tempted to make my preteen girls hold my hands in public.
So much darkness… so many reminders to take to heart Ephesians 5:15-16; to walk wisely and make the best use of our time because the days are evil. It takes only a small level of spiritual discernment to realize that the days we live in truly are evil. And they will grow worse.
But take courage, believers! Though the darkness may loom on our horizon, though it may someday even surround us and press in on all sides, it will not overwhelm us. We may one day soon — perhaps much sooner than we would like — be called to put away our pleasures and our comforts and take part in the sufferings of our Lord in earnest as many of our brethren worldwide are already doing. Even so, we are not of the darkness, though we may find ourselves neck-deep in it.
For we who are in Christ have this hope: in our darkest hour, we know that the Light is coming and indeed is already within us. Though we may weep in the gloom of night, we know that joy will come with the morning. We know that our King will return and this time in the full force and might of His majesty. Though we do not know the day nor the hour, though we know it will come as suddenly as a thief in the night, that Day will not surprise us, my brothers and sisters, for we expect it.
We know that it will come. And we have His own reassurance that we can read the signs of the times just as surely as we can know the signs that summer is near (see Matthew 24). We are given this time, right now, to prepare our hearts and our families for that eventuality. For even if His coming is delayed beyond the span of our expected lifetimes, we still do not know the hour our own lives will be required of us.
Either way — whether we live to see the Lord’s return or we meet Him before that wonderful and somber Day, let us purpose to be ready, to prepare our children, to not only speak of His goodness and worth, but to live as if we believe it so that others may come to know Him, too. Let us see the signs and eagerly anticipate His coming, but let us not wait idly. Let us walk in the good works our Father has prepared in advance for us to do; rightly handling the Word of truth, preaching the good news, and being found ready in season and out of season. Even if we are not taken by surprise, let us resolve not to rest lightly knowing that those around us may be.
Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.