Revelation 7: 9-10, 13-17 - After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!" ... Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, "Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?" I said to him, "Sir, you know." And he said to me, "These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore they are before the throne of God and serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne will shelter them with His presence. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their Shepherd, and He will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."
When I was a teenager, there was a spate of scary books about the end of the world. Some of them would give you nightmares, the way they talked about the suffering that was in store for Christians. Worst of all was the description of something called the "Great Tribulation," which seemed to be some sort of bloodbath of persecution, amped up to the highest degree.
Of course I was terrified. What if I was alive in those days? Would I be strong enough to suffer without breaking down and denying Jesus? I didn't know. It worried me.
But now when I read this passage, I see something different. You see, the first part of the passage seems to be describing the whole church of God, all believers through all time and space—not just a select few from the very end of world history. God calls them an innumerable multitude from throughout the world. Every one of them is dressed in white, waving palm branches and celebrating Jesus with all their might.
Who are these people? It seems clear that these people are us! These are all the people who ever have or ever will believe in Jesus—everyone who has "washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." That's a fancy way of saying it's everyone who has ever sinned or ever done evil, but then God forgave them because Jesus died for them on the cross. Is that you? How about me? I think so.
And that means we are also the ones the angel refers to as "coming out of the great tribulation." It's not that every one of us will somehow be alive for the final battle of Armageddon; rather, it's that every one of us, great or small, young or old, knows what it means to suffer—to live in a world that is actively hostile to God's people. We all know what it means to be tempted to evil. We all know what it means to suffer harm or injustice. We've all had days so black we almost forget the memory of the sunrise.
That is our tribulation—and yet, the Bible says we are coming out of it! Not by our own power or might, but because the Holy Spirit is bringing us safely through. When the final Day comes, there we will be—clean and happy and celebrating Jesus with all our might. Because He is the reason why we can make it through the great tribulation of our lives—and all the little tribulations that come to us daily. He is the only reason. Because He is our Savior, and He keeps us safe in His hands forevermore.
THE PRAYER: Lord, let me trust in You through all the great and little sufferings of this world. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
1. Name one kind of suffering you have right now—even if it is something quite small.
2. What kinds of suffering scare you the most?
3. When you worry about suffering, how do you find comfort in Jesus?
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