Question: I am learning that there are no shortcuts in having faith. It is like a train track that runs out of site, the locomotive can't leave the track it just has to follow the track to where ever it leads.
P.S. Where did this idea of a pre-tribulational rapture come from? I was talking to a friend of mine the other day and this person read the Left Behind series, and I was thinking if they believe they will be gone for the seven years of the tribulation, there could be a rude awakening.
Response: That's a very nice perspective. I was just thinking the other day that if we really had the right perspective all the time in our faith-approach to all our trials and troubles, just like our Lord showed us how to have the right perspective on them in faith, then we would never have any real trouble no matter how real our trouble was. Because, again with just the right faith-perspective, we would live each day one day at a time and realize that trouble only exists in this temporary world and is not really even a hindrance to our spiritual life as long as we are whether living that part of our life the way we should (in fact, a certain amount of it is necessary for growth). And each and every one-day-at-a-time is a day on which we belong to Jesus and are here to please Jesus, to think about Him and what He wants us to do, to persevere in doing the positive things He has led us into and to be faithful in avoiding the negative things He has led us out of. If we have a day like one of those days that Job had, again from the right perspective, it shouldn't really matter to us, because we know for certain by faith that God is in control of everything, so that even if the world seems to be crashing down around our heads (and even if it is), as long as that is how He is choosing to use us at the moment, we have nothing to feel bad about. For really (from that right faith-perspective again), the only thing we have to feel bad about is not doing what we should when we can, or doing what we shouldn't when we know we shouldn't. For (right faith-perspective) if we are hurting, but it is not because of punishment and not because of laziness, then it has to be for God's glory, it has to be in our Master's service. That is an honor, that is a privilege, but that is something that it is very rare for believers to see and see consistently (which probably explains why Job gets an entire book of the Bible about his own personal experiences). But just because persevering in the right faith-perspective is rare, and just because it is difficult, doesn't mean we shouldn't shoot for it. For if we truly did get to the point where we were so focused upon our Lord and on our reward and on our eternal future with Him that we took whatever happened to us in this life, good or bad, with a very large grain of salt, if we really ever did become so disinterested in this world that we truly did hate it and our lives in it (without, however, dampening our zeal for loving Him and doing His will), then we would be able to take all that life, all that our adversary dished out without ever missing a step, and do so to the great glory of the Lord we serve. We would understand that while we might not understand what's happening, He understands everything, and that ought to be good enough for Christians of true and enduring faith.
This really does tie into the pre-Trib rapture. A good analysis of the historical perspective of the pre-Trib rapture theory can be found in Contemporary Options in Eschatology by M.J. Erickson. The theory is relatively new. I am always of mixed emotions on how to deal with it. On the one hand it grew out of the 19th century milieu that was seeking to find out what the Bible actually said about the end times (the R.C. church and the Reformers were not really interested in these things at all), and many of my antecedents are pre-Trib (also many fine believers are pre-Trib). On the other hand, they are indeed in for a "rude awakening" as you so pithily put it. That really is one of my main practical objections to the theory (obviously, any misinterpretation of the Word, however motivated or originated, is a problem). That is, belief in the pre-Trib rapture leaves those who espouse the theory emotionally unprepared for the Tribulation; it develops a mind-set of invulnerability that is not scriptural in any way. This attitude is also seen slipping and seeping into every other aspect of spiritual life. It is good to trust God and to be secure in the knowledge of His love and deliverance, but it must be from the correct faith-perspective as we have just been discussing above. We have to be able to be calm and collected as we pass through the fire, not be complacent because we think we shall never get near it. We need to be able to be in the boat with our Lord asleep in the bow and not worry about the storm raging around us because we understand who He is and where we stand with Him, not assume that we will never see a storm. The problem with the pre-Trib rapture is that it encourages believers to ignore their opportunities for spiritual preparation, and thus makes their vulnerable to personal tribulation now and to the Tribulation later.
There is much more information at the following links:
The Origin and the Danger of the Pre-Tribulational Rapture Theory.
Peter #27: Three False Doctrines which Threaten Faith
Let have patience do its perfect work in growing faith in Him.
Your friend in Jesus Christ,