"Waiting it out" is not the answer. There are specific things Christians must be doing up until the moment Christ arrives.
Are you getting tired of waiting for Christ's Second Coming? We know it will occur in this age. Bible prophecy tells us so, and every day world events push us closer to the holocaust that will force Christ to return to save mankind alive. Every few weeks or so the pace of events on the world scene seems to reach a crescendo. General turmoil and disasters multiply, war threatens, failing crops and upset weather proliferate, scientists and government officials issue gloomy statements. "Surely it's about to happen," you say to yourself. As you watch the chaos around you increase, Bible study, prayer and the Christian life suddenly become especially exciting. Then things seem to slow down again. The immediate outlook for the world does not seem quite so threatening. There is another period of relative calm — at least the world appears calmer. And you are forced to admit that, while Christ's coming is obviously due in this generation, maybe it isn't quite as near as you would like it to be. You realize you may have to put up a while longer with your present circumstances. You will have to continue trying to survive in a society filled with crime, pollution and inflation. You will have to continue facing opposition from unconverted relatives, people at work, school officials. You will have to continue resisting the temptation of the world and peer pressure — striving to overcome. You know things in the world are just going to continue getting worse as long as this age lasts. And there you are in the middle of it all, slugging away. Waiting.
Until the "end" comes
The Scriptures show some will become discouraged waiting for the end to arrive. True to the proverb "Hope deferred maketh the heart sick" (Prov. 13:12), they will become sick at heart. Their mental and spiritual health will be affected. It shouldn't be that way. Paul tells us not to become "weary in well doing" (Gal. 6:9, II Thess. 3:13). Enoch, for example, walked with God for 300 years (Gen. 5:22), Noah even longer than that. The quality of our conversion — how diligently we strive to obey God and understand His will — our enthusiasm for His way — should not be affected by whether we have 300 years or 300 minutes left to live. An organization was recently formed for terminally ill persons. Its name, "Make Today Count," says a lot. These people are waiting for the "end" — the end of their physical lives. But they aren't just doing nothing. Every moment of life is valuable and precious. They are making the most of the time they have left. Rather than feeling sorry for themselves, they get involved in activities and projects. They are productive, forgetting their pain and discomfort as much as possible. They are doing! Mark well this fact: As far as our physical lives are concerned, we are all terminal cases. For any of us; the "end" could come at any time. No one has any guarantee that he will be here tomorrow. If a person realizes at the beginning of each day that this day could — be his last to accomplish, to serve God with gratitude, to overcome that persistent bad habit or personal problem, it becomes easier to set priorities straight. Many cumbersome details of daily existence that stubbornly compete for our attention suddenly become unimportant. The point is, we must make every day — yes, every hour and every moment — count. There are things we should be doing. What are they?
Do the Work
The single most important purpose for our rising in the morning and facing a new day is to assist in the Work of God. Our whole day ought to revolve around that goal. That's why we have been called now. Every member of the Church has a part — or parts — in the Work. The one part we all have is prayer. It is a heavy responsibility. "Finally, brethren, pray for us [the apostles, the ministry], that the word of the Lord may have free course," the apostle Paul urged (II Thess. 3:1). There is only one limit to what can be accomplished through prayer. That's the limit we ourselves impose when we decide how much effort we are going to put into it. We need to pray for Herbert W. Armstrong, for those who assist him, for the success of the ads, the books, the articles, the trips, the broadcasts — all that is being done to prepare the way for the coming of the Kingdom of God. Another extremely important part of the Work most of us have is providing the financial means to carry it out. This includes not only our regular tithes and offerings, but helping financially whenever else it is possible, such as participating in various fund-raising projects sponsored by the Church. People often express the need to try earning a little extra money "to keep up with inflation." The emphasis ought to be on earning a little extra money to give to God and let Him do the worrying about inflation. That's the way Jesus set priorities (Matt.6:24-34)!
Our Christian calling
Of course, you can't spend all day every day praying for the Work. Nor can you give huge offerings every day. There is more to it than that. In order for our prayers to be effective, we must live God's way. "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (Jas. 5:16). Righteousness is obeying God's laws. Living God's way requires 24-hours-a-day effort. Our calling is a full-time job. The more converted we become, the more effective our prayers for the Work will be. Becoming converted is one of the things we have to do. lt also follows that, the more we are doing God's will, the more He may bless us financially so in turn we can give more to the Work. In order to understand God's will, we must study the Bible. There is so much to learn and so little time to learn it. God's laws and precepts must be etched deeply into our character now. How can we live "by every word of God" if we aren't familiar with every word of God? Another duty we all have is to be an example to others, both the converted and the unconverted. We will do well to heed the admonition Paul gave Timothy to "be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity" (I Tim. 4:12). Letting our lights shine lets others see God's Word in action. We have a responsibility to practice pure religion as defined in James 1:27: "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world." Our time — a part of our lives — is the most valuable thing we have to give to others. Jesus said, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). It takes time to get involved in Church-sponsored activities. It takes time to help others, to pray for them, to encourage them. On the job we should apply ourselves with zeal and dedication. If our occupations are lawful, God doesn't care so much what they are — factory worker, farmer, clerk, housewife, student — as He does how we do them. How we do them determines our character — lets God see us in action. And what He sees determines what we shall do in His Kingdom — and whether we shall be there! Whatever we do all day long ought to be done for God, with His Kingdom in mind. "Whatsoever .thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might" (Eccl. 9:10). Or, as Paul expressed it, "whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord" (Col. 3:23).
Servants who are blessed
There is a lot to be doing until Christ comes. "Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing," said Jesus (Luke 12:43). What was He talking about in the context? The very things we have just considered: seeking God's Kingdom (verse 31), setting priorities straight concerning money (verses 16-21), letting our lights shine (verse 35), being faithful stewards of the abilities and talents we have (verse 42), getting ourselves ready to .enter the Kingdom (verse 36). These are the things we must be doing. Notice that the servants Jesus praised did not know the exact moment their lord was going to return (verses 39-40). But they kept busy anyway, preparing for the event. " Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching ... And if he shall come in the second watch, or [on the other hand] come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants" (verses 37-38). Jesus went on to describe three classes of people who will be alive when He returns: 1) Those whom He finds "so doing." They shall rule over all (verses 42-44). 2) Those who know better, but who neglect their calling and stop "doing." By their actions, if not by their words, they say, "My lord delayeth his coming." They shall suffer great loss (verses 45-47). 3) Those who don't know any better. They shall suffer, but only a "few stripes" (verse 48). For us who know the truth, nothing is more vital than that we be in that first class and that we are busy ourselves as we patiently wait for Jesus to return. "And [be] ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord" (verse 36). How? "Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep [this is action; it is doing!] the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus" (Rev. 14:12). To keep means to "hold fast," to "preserve." It is an ongoing process that must be taking place every moment of our lives. If we don't actively hold on to the commandments of God the Father (He is the Lawgiver — Jas. 4:12) and the faith of Jesus (we receive and live by His faith — Eph. 2:8), we lose them. Persevering until Christ comes is a test. But it is good for us. "The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord" (Lam. 3:25-26). Each day we can be sure of one thing. We can confidently exclaim, "Now is our salvation nearer than when we [first] believed" (Rom. 13:11). The end of this age is coming. Nothing can stop it. The prophecies of Jesus' Second Coming will be fulfilled. We need patient endurance: "For still the vision awaits its time; it hastens to the end — it will not lie. If it seem slow, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay" (Hab. 2:3, Revised Standard Version). Notice the warning in the next verse: "Behold, he whose soul is not upright in him shall fail, but the righteous shall live by his faith." We must be living every day by that faith. Yes, if we allow it, "Hope deferred maketh the heart sick" (Prov. 13:12). Let's rather fill our minds with the fact that "when the desire cometh [and our desire is to have Christ return to this earth], it is a tree of life" (same verse).