1Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3While people are saying, "Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.
4But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. 5You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.
1 Thess 5 v 1 - 4
One of the less obvious ways that Christians are divided is in their response to the prospect of the second coming. There is the mistake of becoming totally obsessed with the issue and spending hours and hours trying to torture various passages to fit inside a very clear model of how it's all going to pan out. This, of course, was one of the mistakes of the Pharisees of Jesus' day who had constructed such a clear understanding of who the Messiah was going to be that the reality of Jesus came as a totally unacceptable challenge, and the rest is history...
And then there is the opposite mistake of totally ignoring the subject - often defending themselves by misusing v1 here - despite v4 which destroys the use of v 1 as a proof text. Sometimes offering the additional justification is offered that since this is such a cause of division within the church, it's better to leave it alone. But to do so is to ignore the important perspectives that the bible offers about our life here; this is a temporary environment, it is hard work, but our true hope is in the future.
A major feature that this perspective gives is what it says about suffering. A truly surprising pair of verses is:
Although [Jesus] was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation,
Heb 5 v 8 - 9
if Jesus had to suffer to be made perfect, why do we think we can get a free pass? Note that this is not about being saved, it's about being sanctified, being made more like Jesus. It's part of what we sign up for when we choose to become Christians, though an aspect that seldom makes it into the normal evangelistic sermon for some strange reason! Which brings us to where this fits with being a BL; for almost all of us being a BL has been a cause of substantial suffering and probably still is. And sometimes we can be tempted to conclude that life is fundamentally unfair. But this offers a very different idea: our suffering is a means for us to grow more perfect, more like Jesus - who has been there before us in terms of suffering to be made perfect.
Thank you Lord Jesus that our lives do make sense. Thank you that our sufferings are of value. Thank you that we can use them, as you did, to become more perfect. Help us to live out that understanding and resist the temptation to become bitter, seeking rather to find in you the true comfort that we need, remembering always that one day we will be at home with you and that you will wipe away every tear. Amen