Toward 2000: Happy Days Ahead: Hard Times Assured (Image Vol 1 No 3 – May/June 1994)

By Matt Dabbs

By Terry Rush

The future is full of healthy harm. The church has been experiencing turbulent times, and I believe the turbulence will severely increase (2 Tim. 3:1-4). The heart that dares to enter the roaring floodwaters of Christianity will only survive – will fully survive – by the fiery leadership of the Lord. Our passivity and our land of ease have made us vulnerably soft. While we face a new century, a monumental question faces us. Will we endure?

The turbulence ahead will provide us with a new focus. The coattails of the heroic dead will fade. The voices of liberal selfishness and conservative arrogance will become hoarse from yelling at each other. No other name will matter. Not Campbell. Not McGarvey. Not Nichols. Not Phillips. Not Rise. Not Walling. Not mine. Only the name of Jesus has the power to call us to walk the contrary waves of distress.

Healthy harm? The threat of harm often results in blessings – consider Joseph in the pit, Esther when she needed to speak up, Isaiah realizing his ruin, the jailer when the doors flew open, and the Lamb on the cross. Every imposition lead to life.

How will we respond too our “threats”? We can consider them as threats of doom or threats for opportunity. Will we keep doing, keep believing he will deliver? Or, will we exit? Will we speak up in praise to the King? Or, will we bury ourselves in disappointment?

Will we praise Jesus in prison? Or will we only praise him when the songs we like are sung from the book we like, in the congregation we like, that has a preacher who gives us sermons we like?

The single greatest blessing coming over the horizon is persecution. People in third world oppression worship contentedly, joyfully, under a shade tree with no marquee. I believe we will be hit broadside by more than California earthquakes and Mississippi floods.

Will we endure? If we see the blessing of healthy harm, we will. To endure consider these things?

The Inspiration of the Bible

The Scriptures are fathomably unfathomable! The deeper we dig the deeper we find Him to be. Razor sharp passages lead us to undeniable reservoirs of refreshment and renewal, and we are going to need them. The end is near. Convenient Sunday school classes and polite VBSs will be consumed by the overwhelming appetite of soldiers drafted for battle when it counts.

We will find ourselves casting off the mantle of independence. War is too big for independence. Persecution will wonderfully bring us to the end of our own provision.

Study of the second coming of Christ will become more prominent. This study will nt be a recital of the rote of days gone by. This study will not be a recital of the rote of days gone by. The truth about his return will be sought on the basis of the inspired Word that will not lie to us. This truth will ready us for priority.

The Foolishness of the Father

Who would have guessed that backwardness would take us effectively forward to the year 2000? God is magnificently quick. His ways are so foreign to the natural mind that we are likely to regard them as foolish.

To live we have to die. To gain we  have to lose. To be strong we have to be weak. To keep we have to give away. The older we get, the newer we become. To be poor is to be rich! Marvelous!

The awareness of these rich benefits is conducive to hard times.

According to these few concepts, having things forcibly taken from us (life, goods, strengths, etc.) only thrusts us into the realm of receiving even more blessings. When we lose all for the kingdom, we lose nothing. Rather, we gain.

The Courage of the Son

As clouds roll in, we will notice definable transformation all around us. Jesus, our greatest example, rose to the call when the press was on. Besides economic uncertainty, social unrest, and political upheaval. Jesus had to deal with the self-assigned Pharisees who called him a fake and said he was bumbling the cause of Jehovah. Jesus was constantly in trouble. But he never flinched. He never debated one of them. He took care of them for good. He unhesitantly died for them. Jesus is the greatest of all rebels.

The Will of the Holy Spirit

There have been times when I’ve pressed my will and gotten things my way. Ignorantly, I promoted or argued or defended my heart’s desire in the name of truth. But my way won’t work. His way does. We are going to be overwhelmed by days of persecution for being Christians. And I am confident we will rise to the occasion in grandeur. We will grow in faith and grace and love. Restriction of tax breaks will press. Poor health may tax. Public schools may press. Friendships may press. The American Dream is in direct conflict with the Holy Spirit’s leading. We will succeed because he will succeed.

His very nature will cause us to love the enemy as we go down for his name’s sake. We will not spare ourselves for ourselves. The Worse it gets, the happier and healthier we will become. The enemy is going to press us so far that we will rebel…and win…by the Spirit way.

I think the day of fighting issues is going to be surpassed by the call to fight the enemy. The battle won’t be overseas. It won’t be watched on channel two or five or ten. It will be in our own town, on our street. Though we may have been guilty of bemoaning the condition of the parking lot or the direction of the eldership, those days are going to be replaced by healthy harm.

Will we run? Will we excuse ourselves…again? Will we continue the Church of Christ pettiness of disliking the disbelieving and disassociating? Or will we fight hell and all it has to offer? I say, we do have the heart to throw down our printing presses and throw up our holy hands unto the deliverer!

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart. (Heb. 12:1-3 – NASV)

The hard times will be our happy days because we will endure!

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This author published 1598 posts in this site.
Matt is the preaching minister at the Auburn Church of Christ in Auburn, Alabama. He and Missy have been married 12 years and are raising two wonderful boys, Jonah and Elijah. Matt is passionate about reaching and discipling young adults, small groups, and teaching. Matt is currently the editor and co-owner of


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