Will Christians Suffer in the Tribulation?
I always believed I was a little odd, not knowing anyone else who has had dreams and visions as I have had, but I just recently read Corrie ten Boom – Her Life, Her Faith by Carole C. Carlson and found that maybe I’m not so strange after all. Corrie also had dreams and visions, some prophetic in nature. Corrie’s exceptional faith in the face of the fear brought by the Nazi holocaust of the Jewish people brought her through the most horrific of circumstances. At times in her life when most people’s faith would have long since died, her faith carried her through great suffering. She continued to proclaim to all those around her the love of Jesus Christ, even bringing to faith some of her Nazi captors.
Corrie believed forgiveness to be the most important part of the Christian’s walk of faith. Not unlike Corrie, I have experienced great fears in my own life, being a victim of Domestic Violence for over 20 years. To have forgiven the ones who hurt me so much was an act of faith, not in my own ability to do so, but in Christ’s power to help me to do so. While my own experiences pale in significance when compared to Corrie’s horrendous experiences in a Nazi death camp, her story has been a faith building exercise for me as I read through the pages of her biography.
One of the most important messages in this book was that Corrie believed her ministry was to prepare Christians for future suffering. Now many Christians today believe that they will be raptured out of the earth before they will come to any suffering, but those who have suffered for our faith may have a little different perspective. There are many arguments over when the rapture is to take place but even the best of theologians have not resolved the questions at hand. We do know that Christ himself told us that just as he suffered, so must we suffer. In John 15:20 Christ tells us “If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you…” Persecution necessarily includes suffering.
Like Corrie, I know what it means to suffer, having at times in my life been threatened with physical harm, beaten, betrayed by family members, and having faced death with a gun put to my head. Coming face to face with death and miraculously living through it, puts you on a whole different level of suffering and faith. But again, like Corrie, I also believe that many Christians in these last days will suffer. Regardless of when the rapture may happen, I believe that like the Jews, Christians will also go through a time of great suffering which will test their faith. Maybe not all Christians will suffer, but many of them will.
In any case I believe that the Christian community should hope for the best (pre-tribulation rapture), but prepare for the worst (post- tribulation rapture). Rev. 7:9-14 tells us of a great multitude of people from all the nations of the world who will come out of the great tribulation. These are Christians who will suffer through the persecutions of the tribulation. Though Christians won’t suffer the judgments God sends on the unbelievers, they will suffer persecution from the anti-christ and his followers, those who have denied Christ.
Another important message Corrie shared with us before her death was a vision she had in which Christ proclaimed to her that after her death, He would very shortly return. Like Corrie, I have also had dreams and visions that lead me to believe that Christ’s second coming is in fact very near. In one dream I saw myself and a daughter in a Christian concentration camp surrounded by guards with dogs. Could this be possible in my life time? Could the world possibly allow another holocaust of Christians, like it did of the Jews? I believe it’s not only conceivable but very possible. Just as the world hated the Jews, so the Christians will be targeted with hatred for Christ’s name sake (Matt. 10:22).
In closing, I would say to Christians today not to be surprised by persecution and suffering, but to be prepared when it comes to us. Christians in other parts of the world are already suffering persecution and even death for their faith, so we in the U.S. will likely eventually face that kind of suffering ourselves. But like Corrie and myself, God will watch over those He loves. So trust that God will be with us, whether He chooses to remove us from suffering or whether He chooses to bring us faithfully through suffering. And like an angel in a vision once told me when I was about to come into one of my hardest times of suffering, “The angels will be with you!”
In Matt. 24, Mark 13, and Luke 17, 21 Jesus tells the followers about a time when the world will be in chaos with wars, famines, disease, tsunamis, earthquakes, persecution of Christians and Jews, lack of love, lack of interest in the church, cosmological chaos, and so forth. This time period is described as being like birth pangs which get stronger and closer together as the time draws near. We are already experiencing the beginnings of trouble, with nation coming against nation, and land against land: with a great lack of food, and deadly diseases, and natural disasters, in many different places. These are hard times to be sure, but they aren’t without the grace of Almighty God.