Forward Despite All Difficulties

There has never been a time when the chil­dren of God did not have to face difficulties in their efforts to promote the interests of His sacred cause.

By A. V. OLSON, President of the Southern European Division

When the children of Israel found themselves trapped before the Red Sea, with mountains obstructing their further progress to the south and the Egyptian army pressing hard upon them from the rear, God said to Moses: "Speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward." To human eyes and reason it seemed impossible to obey these divine orders. Before them was the ocean, its waters lashed into fury by a raging wind. To advance against those mountainous billows would to all appearances mean cer­tain death. But instead of being intimidated and overcome by the seemingly insurmountable difficulties before them, the whole camp arose and moved forward in obedience to God's com­mand. As they did this, God opened a way through the deep waters and led them tri­umphantly forward to a glorious victory.

Often since that memorable day have God's faithful people found their way hedged up by legions of difficulties. Again and again it has seemed that the Christian church would be annihilated and its work destroyed. Ad­vance has seemed impossible. But every time the church has obeyed the divine orders to go forward in spite of difficulties, God has opened a way for His people to advance.

There has never been a time when the chil­dren of God did not have to face difficulties in their efforts to promote the interests of His sacred cause. There have been periods, however, when there seemed to be fewer diffi­culties and less opposition. This was true for a few short years after the World War of 1914-18. A new spirit of friendliness and good will seemed to be at work among the nations. Travel and traffic increased around the earth. Times were good. And for the church, times were also good. Countries that had long been closed to the missionary were thrown wide open. From far and near came pressing calls for gospel workers. A new missionary spirit gripped the church. Gifts flowed freely into the mission treasury, and men and women offered themselves gladly for service in the whitening fields. Rapidly the work grew and prospered.

But times have changed. The spirits of demons have sown distrust and hatred among the nations. The spirit of war is everywhere. The foreigner is hated, business is stagnant, times are hard. An anti-Christian spirit is at work in the world. In lands long known as Christian, the church is hated and persecuted. Antiforeign laws are driving missionaries from their fields. In certain areas cruel wars are scattering the believers, and laying their chapels, schools, hospitals, and other institu­tions in ruins. In some places, mission sta­tions are being closed, and mission properties seized by the powers that be. Laws pro­hibiting the export of money from certain countries are cutting off large sections of the church from participation in the financing of foreign missions. In some fields, witness­ing for Christ and winning souls for His king­dom is forbidden by law. Times are hard for the church, and they are growing harder.

These are the conditions which confront the people of the remnant church today as they endeavor to carry the third angel's message into all the world. Every day new difficulties and perplexities arise to obstruct the way. In more than one place we seem to have come to the deep waters of the Red Sea, where advance seems impossible. Under these cir­cumstances, what are we to do? Surrender? God forbid! Like Israel of old, we must obey the divine command and go forward. The God who made a way through the deep for His people of old will also make a way for us through the waters of difficulty, if we only trust and obey Him. His promise is, "When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee."

These are times that call for courage, faith, and loyalty. With new earnestness and zeal  we must press forward to finish the great task which God has committed to us. There must be no slacking of our efforts now. If doors close against us, other doors must be found. If some roads are barred, new ways must be opened. God has a thousand ways that we know not of. If we seek for them, we shall find them when they are most needed.

One thing we must never forget: If we want God to work for us in these times of hardship and trial, we must be true to Him at all times and under all circumstances. Not for one brief moment must we sacrifice prin­ciple or compromise truth in order to win favors or find an easier way. The only safe course is to stand unflinchingly for truth and right, even though to do so may mean suffer­ing and death. The work of God will not be finished without sacrifice and suffering. We must have the faith of our fathers and the spirit of the martyrs. "Be thou faithful unto death," says our mighty Leader, "and I will give thee a crown of life." Therefore, with hearts aglow, and filled with zeal for His holy cause, let us "put on the whole armor of God," and go forward!

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By A. V. OLSON, President of the Southern European Division

December 1939

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