6 Takeaways from Matthew 24 - The Beginning of Sorrows
"We don't talk about Bruno. No, no, no." This catchy tune from Encanto played on repeat while my children delighted in the new animated movie. If you haven't heard this song a gazillion times, consider yourself lucky. Trust me; I didn't want to talk about "Bruno." But the song got me thinking while grinding my teeth every time I heard it. We don't talk about the Beginning of Sorrows either. At least not what it means for Christians.
There's a lot of commotion about The End of Times. You've undoubtedly heard of the book of Revelation, the seven seals, and the Great Tribulation. And our saving grace -- the rapture.
The Beginning of Birth Pains
But a quick online search confirms my suspicion; we don't discuss the Beginning of Sorrows or what's also known as the "Beginning of Birth Pains." Many are familiar with the part of the verse about "wars and rumors of wars." But I'm not sure that it is widely understood this time that Jesus called the Beginning of Sorrows comes before the Great Tribulation, and His children are not spared from this time of deep distress. As a matter of scripture, we are the ones under persecution (Matthew 24).
The Earth is experiencing the "beginning of birth pains." If you've ever experienced labor, you know the contractions only get worse until your child's birth. Once the deception, famines, epidemics, earthquakes, wars, and rumors of wars begin, the world's condition will continue to decline and grow darker until the "childbirth" is complete.
Friends, I feel it in my bones. I read of terror, heartbreak, and despair every day. While these things seem distant to me at this time, the fear is emerging closer to home, and escaping uncomfortable times cannot be accomplished by moving to a different geographic location.
My son came home from summer reading camp at his school the other day and said, "Mom, we had three drills." I thought he was referring to spelling drills or something similar, and then he told me, "One was for fire. One was for tornadoes. And one was for bad guys." My heart sunk uncomfortably low in my chest as I processed his last sentence. Then I asked him what they practiced for each drill. Of course, I knew the standard process for fires and tornadoes. I wanted to know what protects my son from evil knocking on the door.
He explained that his teacher pulls out a pin in the door hinge, which locks the door, and they all hide behind the teacher's desk. That's it. All that would stand between my son and a killer is a door with a little window, a teacher, and a five-foot wooden veneer desk. Assuming there is even room for him behind the desk with twenty children clamoring for a secure spot. Anxiety roared inside my chest as I imagined the scenario no parent ever wants to imagine. And deep sorrow filled my heart as I thought about the parents who have lost their children this way and any other way for that fact.
I appreciate that my son's school is being proactive and making the children's safety a priority, and I'm not complaining. I just pray that it will only ever be a drill.
But truthfully, I can't shake the worry that wells up in my throat as I drop my child off at school, church, or anywhere I'm not going to be present. I know I'm certainly not the only one who feels this way, and I can preach the Bible verses about casting off my cares to the Lord a million times, yet my momma's heart will still worry. And hurt – physically hurt like a gnawing pain in my heart. I feel it now as I write these words.
We've Lived in the "End Times" Since Pentecost
We aren't the only generation that has dealt with this fear and worry for our children as we send them off to learn. I can only imagine how parents felt in the 1950s as children practiced duck-and-cover drills where they dove under their desks and covered their heads in case of a nuclear attack.
There's always been wars, crimes, malice, and evil. But the dark and hate spread quicker nowadays. It lurks in the glow of a teen's phone. Missiles reach further and money transfers in seconds all because of technology. Corruption, greed, and power-hunger run deep in the blood of our world leaders.
I know what you are thinking; who wants to read more doom and gloom? I understand, friend; trust me, I do! But, this has been on my mind for a while, and I've debated whether to write anything, but the nagging thoughts have not stopped. And unfortunately, prosperity preaching and "good vibes" have weakened the modern-day Christian. Our comfort will be shaken, and our faith will be tested, and we need to ensure our hope and faith are secured in the one and only faithful Savior, Jesus Christ. Then we shall have nothing to fear.
The Christian religions in America preach about and place a lot of emphasis on a pre-tribulation rapture. I'm worried too many people have their faith in a pre-tribulation rapture and not in the One coming in the clouds. Now I'm not here to debate the validity of the rapture or the timing of it. Check out this article on Got Questions for a breakdown of the three fundamental theories concerning the rapture's timing.
Ultimately, it doesn't matter when the rapture happens or if it even happens in our lifetime. The point is to be ready no matter the time.
I simply want to show you the warnings about the Beginning of Sorrows Jesus pointed out to the disciples in Matthew 24.
An article on Lifeway asks about our preparedness and expands on Matthew 24, "Are we prepared for the second coming of Christ? Have you told everyone you need to tell about the gospel? Is your own family in order? What about your own life? Is it in order? I mean, the real question is, If Jesus came back today, would you be ready?"
Jesus foretold the signs of the Beginning of Sorrows to prepare (not scare) His disciples (including you and me) for the tough parts and that we may preach with urgency, knowing the importance of the matter. The urgency has been real since the Pentecost as there have always been signs of the end times.
But as the frequency and intensity of birth pains increase, we have hope in the new beginning and new world Jesus is ushering in! And we want to see as many loved ones as possible there!
1. We don't know how long the Beginning of Sorrows will last, only that it is the time leading up to the Great Tribulation, and those who endure to the end will be saved according to Matthew 24:13.
2. The intensity and frequency of wars, pestilences, famines and natural disasters will increase (like birth pains), but Jesus commands us not to trouble ourselves.
"And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows" (Matthew 24:6-8).
3. We will need to persevere under persecution. Remember, persecution comes in many forms -- not just death.
"Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another" (Matthew 24:9-10).
4. We will need to guard our hearts and minds against deception.
"And Jesus answered and said to them: "Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many" (Matthew 24:4-5).
5. We will need to hold fast to our morals and the commandments. Our morals will go against cultural norms.
"And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold" (Matthew 24:12).
6. The entire world will hear the gospel preached. The chance for everyone to listen to the gospel exemplifies God's character of longsuffering.
"And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come" (Matthew 24:14).
Not only does the dark spread quicker, but so does the light. We have the unique opportunity to have our voices heard to preach the gospel far and wide. So once we check our hearts' condition and meditate on the Word, we can start sharing Christ's love from the heart -- with urgency.