I don’t know about you, but one of the prayers I pray perhaps more than any other nowadays is this: “Come Quickly Lord Jesus”. Sometimes that is all I can pray. My heart is heavy, my spirit groans, and I see darkness all around me – all I can do is implore the Lord to return soon.
Of course I know I have a job to do, and I am to occupy till he comes. I certainly do not have my bags packed, my feet up, just sitting around waiting for his coming. I will work and I will pray until he arrives – whenever that may be. So this is no plea for pulling out and abdicating our responsibilities.
But it seems to me that anyone who deeply loves the Lord Jesus Christ and is seeking to be conformed to his image will increasingly feel utterly out of place in this world. They will be heartsick over what they see happening all around them – even in the churches.
Indeed, that will grieve the real follower of Jesus Christ more than anything. It will break his heart and drive him to his knees. This is the normal Christian life: one of growing holiness and growing dis-ease with what is all around us.
In fact, I believe that if Christians are not deeply grieved by what they see all around them, a case can be made that they are not Christians at all. The disciple of Christ shares in the heart of his Lord, and if God’s heart is broken over what he finds everywhere, so too should our hearts be.
The Bible often speaks to this. We know, for example, that God is near to those whose hearts are broken and whose spirits are grieving. Consider just a few psalms here:
Psalm 31:7 I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul.
Psalm 34:18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Psalm 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
And having a heart that breaks over what breaks the heart of God is so often what we see with the great men and women of God as found in Scripture, especially the prophets. Consider a few more passages:
Esther 4:1 When Mordecai learned of all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the city, wailing loudly and bitterly.
Nehemiah 2:1-3 In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was brought for him, I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had not been sad in his presence before, so the king asked me, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.” I was very much afraid, but I said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?”
Psalm 42:3 My tears have been my food day and night
Psalm 119:53 Indignation grips me because of the wicked, who have forsaken your law.
Psalm 119:136 Streams of tears flow from my eyes, for your law is not obeyed.
Isaiah 21:3-4 At this my body is racked with pain, pangs seize me, like those of a woman in labor; I am staggered by what I hear, I am bewildered by what I see. My heart falters, fear makes me tremble; the twilight I longed for has become a horror to me.
Isaiah 22:4 Therefore I said, “Turn away from me; let me weep bitterly. Do not try to console me over the destruction of my people.”
Jeremiah 8:21 Since my people are crushed, I am crushed; I mourn, and horror grips me.
Jeremiah 9:1 Oh, that my head were a spring of water and my eyes a fountain of tears! I would weep day and night for the slain of my people.
Ezekiel 9:3-4 Now the glory of the God of Israel went up from above the cherubim, where it had been, and moved to the threshold of the temple. Then the LORD called to the man clothed in linen who had the writing kit at his side and said to him, “Go throughout the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the detestable things that are done in it.”
Ezek 21:6-7 “Therefore groan, son of man! Groan before them with broken heart and bitter grief. And when they ask you, ‘Why are you groaning?’ you shall say, ‘Because of the news that is coming. Every heart will melt with fear and every hand go limp; every spirit will become faint and every leg will be wet with urine.’ It is coming! It will surely take place, declares the Sovereign LORD.”
This as I say is the normal Christian life. It is a life of tears, of heartache, of brokenness, of grief. Sure, there is wonderful joy in the Lord, but this is always coupled with great grief for the lost, for sin, for ungodliness, and so on. We rejoice in the Lord, but the sin and unrighteousness all around us should vex our very souls.
As we read of Lot, he was “a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)” (2 Peter 2:7-8).
With so much torment of soul and brokenness of heart, one can only expect that a natural prayer of the righteous would be for God to make things right, for Christ to return, and for sin and rebellion to be finally put down. Thus the saint of God rightly calls out to God for his speedy return.
Various times in the book of Revelation we read about how Jesus says he is coming soon, or quickly, depending on the English translation you use. The NIV for example opts for the first version:
Revelation 3:11 I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown.
Revelation 22:7 Behold, I am coming soon! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book.
Revelation 22:12 Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.
Revelation 22:20 He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
The first three passages speak of his coming, but it is only in the final passage that this becomes a plea, a request: “Come Lord Jesus”. And that certainly has been my prayer, especially of late. When I see the destruction of the West, the assault on our children, the erosion of the faith, and the tidal waves of filth and immorality crashing over us, it gets so heavy and intense that I know of no other prayer but to plea for his soon return.
I know millions of other followers of Christ feel the same way. And I am reminded of what Paul said in Romans 8:26-27 about our present sufferings: “The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.”
Often there is just a lot of groaning and sighing going on! But thankfully the Spirit translates all that and presents it to Father God on our behalf. So if you are feeling heavy and overwhelmed and think that things are getting so very bleak and diabolical, you are right to feel this way.
And you are right to pray for the Lord’s speedy return. Sure, God is in control, and he is working out his plans and purposes, but all true believers should grieve deeply for what they see taking place all around them. We need to have the broken heart of God.
Indeed, the Bible even pronounces a woe on those who do not grieve – in this case, grieve over the destruction of Israel (Amos 6:6). The destruction of the West and the Western church should cause us to feel the same way God’s people felt about the destruction of Jerusalem and the Babylonian captivity. Consider these two verses:
Ezekiel 3:14-15 The Spirit then lifted me up and took me away, and I went in bitterness and in the anger of my spirit, with the strong hand of the LORD upon me. I came to the exiles who lived at Tel Abib near the Kebar River. And there, where they were living, I sat among them for seven days, overwhelmed.
Psalm 137:1-4 By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion. There on the poplars we hung our harps, for there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!” How can we sing the songs of the LORD while in a foreign land?
But we do not succumb to despair. We do not give up. We do not let the circumstances overwhelm us. Instead, we work more than ever before. We pray more than ever before. And we worship more than ever before.
And all the while, we implore the Lord: Come quickly Lord Jesus.