Volume 45 | Number 1 | January–February 2017

Inglés Español

The Present Distress

By Dr. H. T. Spence

The swearing in of our 45th president is the providential appointment of this man for this country at this time; his tenure may prove to be a global epoch of end-time leadership. An epoch is marked by a person, an event, or a new mood that commences an era of strong influence in history. Much of the time, the providential reason for an epoch is only made clear upon later reflection that reveals its evidences and influences upon later ages. Some epochs are distinguished by specific events or personalities that seem to clearly capture the meaning and purpose of such a God-appointed epoch. God’s people often can discern that such an event or person was of epoch importance in history.

The Coming of Donald Trump

The unfolding of the weeks since the inauguration of President Trump has indicated his presidency will be a monumental epoch in history, although perhaps not for what we first believed. Without question, the chain of events ushering in his presidency proved it was a miracle of God that shocked the entire world. Perhaps we should ask what is the reason for his epochal appointment now in our history? Will more time be needed for an answer to be revealed? Is this presidency a God question alone? Or are we witnessing accompanying events that are leaning in a certain direction of purpose?

President Trump has already brought about some important and refreshing changes. Our nation had intentionally fallen into utter disrepair economically with a continued expansion of national debt reaching $19 trillion. The more accurate estimate of the unemployed has risen to nearly 28 percent. We have embraced the judicial mandate of “public policy” for the interpretation of law, intentionally overthrowing the Constitution of these United States. Our society is in the throes of great violence, intentional governmental provocation to racism, the escalating promotion of aggravated crime. Our society has reached its lowest ebb in standard of living and dress. The characterless leadership of the past has inspired a characterless society; patriotism has publicly been abhorred, and the natural dignity of American living has become brutish, endeavoring to bring us back to animalistic living, or (as the world would say) resorting to our evolutionary ancestors. Vulgarity and strange immorality have captured the curiosities and public policies of our country. We have become the worst of nations in natural character.

Amidst the intensity of the present distress in our country, it has been refreshing to see some human dignity returning to a presidential family either in their dress, their manner, or their call to return to some patriotism. President Trump’s inaugural speech was rhetorically bold for righteousness, seeming to express some longing for a recovery of a fallen nation. When this president was sworn in, immediate changes came including the content on the White House website and the restoration in the White House of certain statuary of past world leaders. No doubt more radical changes will be forthcoming.

Yet, amidst the president’s desire to restore or regain that which was aggressively discarded by the previous administration, the “fake news” against his administration is flooding the populace through the major news networks at constant proportions. His four-year term will be constantly attacked with horrendous lies to wear him down, either forcing a resignation, bringing impeachment, or openly and boldly promoting his assassination.

Dare we ask, what is the purpose of God’s appointment for this president at this time in our history? Is it to make America great again, for which we have prayed? Or does God have something else in mind? It may be that the great disruptions across our country witnessed the weekend of the inauguration were the prelude to a far greater tragedy for America. The verbal onslaught in media attacks on the president over these ensuing weeks, the women’s march on Washington and other major cities, and violent protests orchestrated by the prolific side effects of the previous administration are now all giving evidence of a growing end-time power that we have not witnessed to such treacherous, ignoble proportion. With intense hatred both liberal Democratic anarchists and the major media have collaborated to vehemently distract any positive effect of this president (the same tactic used by the previous administration to bring destruction to this country). Carefully-selected actors have all come on stage from Satan’s den of iniquity to assault any righteous memory of a once God-honoring country.

Over the past eight years, the previous administration silently and maliciously pervaded the judicial system with radical judges whose agenda is to destroy the Constitution. All government agencies were filled with federal workers made up of socialists, sodomite activists, and anti-God enthusiasts. With such deep saturation of personnel, it is nearly impossible to extricate their infestation. Does President Trump even know a small portion of people who must fill nearly 18,000 appointments in his administration? Can we dare contemplate the vast subversive people strategically placed over the past eight years within the EPA, the Department of Labor, the Department of Justice, as well as in policing agencies such as the CIA and the FBI. Literally thousands of people were appointed in the vast network of the federal government, their one intent being to destroy what was left of this country. In addition, there are multitudes of vicious regulations and laws enacted (more than any president in our history, and perhaps all of them combined). The last eight years truly have brought about irreparable damage to the infrastructure of American society. The task before President Trump will be humanly impossible, for there is a throng of blood-sucking, life-draining leeches planted throughout the vastness of the American governmental organization; and he will never find them all until it is too late.

The End-Time Epoch

The End Time will be marked by the growing reality that righteousness will be intensely hated. When truth rises to speak or act, that which is against truth will equally rise and react. The final prelude before the appearance of Antichrist will necessitate an epoch of global proportion to angrily force a transition of societal philosophy and of living; the resulting new philosophy will make palatable society’s acceptance of Antichrist. Therefore, any apparent attempt to restore truth “in the streets” will be met with an aggressive, satanic force of great hatred and power. It will take a man like Donald Trump to stir the Devil and his advocates to rise as never before to give a final blow to the truth, to righteousness, and to any natural or spiritual appearance of God.

Though organized and unorganized protestors have always existed, the world has yet to witness the violent, chaotic protests coming to our country. Inauguration weekend brought visible witness across America as the liberal, pro-abortion, men-hating, godless women marched against any form of righteousness, all being led by the leading women of vulgarity and debauchery. An appropriate question was asked by Vice President Mike Pence, “Where are the husbands?” Our social educational institutions have turned our young boys and men into women, while the women have become the men.

Yes, we are living in a transgender generation; perhaps this is far worse than the “same sex marriage.” The Bible declares there will be “men of renown” in the End Time (Gen. 6:4b; Matt. 24:37); this phrase also includes “women of renown.” There are George Soros and his son, Alexander; but there are the ageless Gloria Steinman and moral apostates such as Madonna and the male-appearing Ellen “Degenerate.” Such women have risen in manipulative authority to intimidate any woman who believes in marriage, the God-appointed family, the raising of children, and being part of the bedrock foundation of a righteous society. Where are their protests against men such as Bill Clinton, known to molest, defile, and shame women in his debauched escapades? How hypocritical their ranting is against President Trump.

Dear Reader, we have only seen a minuscule prelude in the early weeks of this presidency of what the anti-American, anti-God society is prepared to do to achieve their goals. Yes, it may be that God has chosen this president to prove that our country willfully gave itself to an “obamination”; only now we will witness how low our society will stoop to fight against this country’s ever returning to a sane and sound mind, and to any form of truth.

The great characteristic of end-time society is the churning of the waters of humanity to a dimension of restlessness and intense anger. We witnessed this in the biblical account of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, when leaders convinced the people that this professing Messiah was no good, and His preaching and even His miracles would destroy the nation. Such leaders convinced the people to cry “Crucify Him”; they further convinced the Roman government to follow through with that crucifixion. They paid the soldiers on the Resurrection Day to give “fake news,” to verbally publish that His body was stolen (Matt. 28:12–15). Times have not changed the heart and nature of man. The hatred for truth will drive men and women to do whatever it takes to get rid of truth and its voice.

This president may be appointed by God to bring about the final churning of the waters of humanity worldwide. It will take his strength of words and actions to stir the hornet’s nest, to entice the den of iniquity to bring forth its foulest of beasts, and even for the powers of the rulers of this world to finally make the global change.

The Churning of Waters

What are these churnings of the waters? Note the opening of Luke 21:9; it states, “But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions . . .” The Greek term for commotions carries the meaning of “instability, disorder, disturbance, confusion, tumult, revolution, or anarchy.” In Luke 21, Christ continued with His words of admonition, “Be not terrified.” Truly the End Time will rise with greater terror through both people and events.

It was evident in the inaugural address given by President Trump on January 20, 2017, that his desire was for the United States to be first of the nations once again; these were inflaming words against the new world order. It is becoming more evident that the politicians of Washington are against any discomforting words that will intrude into their governmentally-crafted, elaborate palaces of bureaucratic peace. It does not matter what it costs to quell such attacks, including the giving up a nation’s independence and the reality of truth. Yes, this president has stirred up the nations and the kingdoms; news media continue to stir the feelings of the world into a frenzy of lawless hatred against him.

With distresses vastly increasing and natural perplexities unfolding in greater proportions, such characteristics give witness that we as a nation have utterly lost our way. There is no way out of the imminent implosion before us; the wholesale dilemmas of worldwide embarrassment are inevitable. There are no resources to avert the tragedy that awaits us in God’s providence.

Christ went on to say the following in Luke 21:25:

Upon the earth [there will be] distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and waves roaring; Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.

The perplexity that we find ourselves in today reveals to the world that we have lost our way as a nation; we have no solution for our embarrassment, and we will not have the resources to be delivered. The sea and waves are roaring throughout our country; a deafening sound is ever echoing with talk of mournful and painful destruction. Christ continued in Luke 21:26 to declare that the days will become so alarming that men’s hearts will faint, will expire for fear. There must be a beginning to all of this. Will President Trump be the man whom God has chosen to bring about the final confrontation of ideologies and powers in America for its overthrow?

When the world is prepared by Satan’s churning of the waters of humanity, when the sea and the waves roar out crying for a man to lead the world against God, then the man of sin, the son of perdition, yea, the beast will arise out of that sea. We are now witnessing the striving of the winds agitating society’s waters. Certainly in the next four years, we will hear the loud roaring of the sea and waves in a mighty attack against such a president. The Devil’s crowd has unlimited finances even to purchase the lusting GOP to cast their vote with them against their own party president. There is no political party of righteousness; there is perhaps only a righteous individual here or there.

Similar conditions abound in the churches today. Even contemporary Fundamentalism does not have any desire to return to former days, or to reclaim their historic faith. Most Fundamental schools and churches rejoice in the changes that have come, and they love to have it so.

Christ continued in the Olivet Discourse of Luke 21:34–36, giving warning about the days surrounding His coming, when stress, distress, and the cares of life will overwhelm. Such things will come upon God’s people unawares.

For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.

Yes, amidst all the increase of cares and distresses coming as snares, the tendency of the heart will be to try to alleviate these things. And there will be the tendency to turn to pleasures of life to divert the heart and mind from the pressures of life. Luke 17 warns that the end time will draw the disciple’s heart to building, to eating and drinking, and to a variety of diversions of the heart and mind (vv. 27, 28). The problem with all the stress in the end time is that we will tend to turn to things to be our comfort rather than God.

To Pray and Not Faint

Luke 18:1 states, “Men ought always to pray, and not to faint.” This exhortation follows closely the solemn context concerning the second advent of Christ in Luke 17. In the long, weary season between Christ’s first and second advents, there is the consistent need of praying without fainting. Some commentaries imply this statement by Christ as telling us that, though accurate, the word always is somewhat exaggerated.

Amidst the apostle Paul’s words of 1 Thessalonians 5:16–22, several injunctions are given in epigrammatical form. One of these imperatives is “Pray without ceasing” (v. 17). Yes, it is true that we are to pray every day. David spoke of praying morning, noon, and night (Psalm 55:17). We are to be men and women of prayer. However, in this context, the apostle specifically wrote, “Pray without ceasing.” Similarly, Christ meant what He said when Luke recorded, “Men ought always to pray,” referring to His disciples.

Luke’s context seems to be telling us that Christ truly lifted the whole subject of prayer to a very high level, revealing to us the fact that there is infinitely more in prayer than the offering of petitions, more than simply the uttering of words, and more than simply taking time to pray. Truly there were deeper depths and higher heights to be found in this matter of prayer.

The Lord had stated earlier to His disciples, “The days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it” (Luke 17:22). The days will become so evil that the heart will burn with intensity for Christ to come; yet, we will not see the day immediately. It is true that the Second Coming of Christ will be a very sudden event. We read in Luke 17:24, “For as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven: so shall also the Son of man be in his day.” It will come without any previous notice: “in such an hour as ye think not” and as “a thief in the night” (Matt. 24:43, 44; 1 Thess. 5:2). This reveals to us that the thought of Christ’s Second Coming is to be a study of continual preparedness of mind and heart.

As there were two segments of the First Coming of Christ (one for the remnant at the beginning in secret, and then the open coming thirty years later), there will be a first advent of the Second Coming for the remnant of the Church and then later His global appearance to set up His kingdom. The warning of Luke 18:1 is not to the world, but to His disciples. The Lord knows his disciples’ minds will tend to be cluttered with unnecessary and distressing things in the End Time. (The Second Coming in secret is not of Christ’s coming to the earth, but of our going to Him, Luke 17:34–37.)

The Lord Jesus warns His disciples in Luke 18:1 that they “ought always to pray, and not to faint.” In the previous chapter Christ tells them, “Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it” (17:33). The life of faith is a strenuous life, characterized by stress, conflict, and difficulty. It is a life that is lived, not by tangible things, but by intangible (but real) faith. Luke 18:8 states, “Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” Because of the pressures of this age for success, for living, and in the light of what is happening to us at this time in our country, the events of the End Time will make life more difficult to live. All of this will draw the heart toward fainting.

What did Christ mean by the phrase “and not to faint”? This is the Son of God’s recognition of the strenuous nature of the life to be lived by believing souls in days when so many voices are vying for their attention. The word faint means “to be paralyzed, to be weak, to be worthless, to feel the force of strength dying within the soul, as when the enabling power to live the Christian life is diminishing in the life.” It also has the understanding of being beaten, broken down and helpless, ultimately becoming a coward with the inability to go on in the Christian life. Fainting is a sudden sense of inability and helplessness, the cessation of activity, a weariness which may eventually bring one to spiritual death.

Christ made it clear that the only alternative to fainting is to always pray. But praying is more than simply the offering of petitions; it is more than just uttering words or investing some time in general prayer. The conscious pervading spirit necessary in continual prayer is revealed in Colossians 3:1–4:

If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.

Certainly the first attitude of prayer is worship; and within that sphere of attitude the Christian seeks and sets his mind and heart on God’s will in everything. What is God’s will in this matter that I am facing? Prayer is to bring us into clarity of vision for what we are to do, even living in these United States at this crucial hour. Prayer is to strengthen my life moment by moment in order to live in these distressful days without yielding to the pressure and spiritually fainting.


We must prayerfully lay hold of the words of Isaiah in 40:28–31:

Hast thou not known? Hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? There is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles: they shall run and not be weary, and they shall walk, and not faint.

Four times faint is presented here: once to reveal that God never faints, and three times to tell us that God will give power to the faint, that even young people will faint, and that in the walking there will be no fainting.

The easiest thing to do is to “mount up with wings as eagles.” The first day we personally caught sight of Christ (at the age of seventeen), our soul did “fly.” We called our parents at 4:00 in the morning to tell them what had happened; we immediately resigned our job that morning before an understanding employer; we packed our few possessions in a day or two and moved to a school that taught us how to live for God. Oh, those days were filled with “flying” as an eagle. There have been other days when our soul did soar as an eagle. Yes, the easiest time of strength is when God is opening door after door and we are quickly going through life as if our feet touched not the ground. But God has not chosen the Christian life to be filled with this “flying.” There is also “running.” Thank God when such times in the Christian life manifest this running “to” God and running “in” God.

Perhaps the most difficult task in the Christian life is to simply “walk” with God. To walk when the enemies are all around you, to walk when the difficulties seem insurmountable, and to walk when a nation gives no encouragement for a life in Christ. It is then, dear friend, that you must walk and not faint. And, you must always pray in order not to faint! How is it in your life at this hour? Are you failing, fainting, faltering, or going back on God and His truth? If so, it is the clear evidence that you are not praying; you are not given to prayer.

Luke 18:2–8 presents the parable that follows Christ’s exhortation, “Men ought always to pray, and not to faint.” The parable has several enigmas, and if we are not careful, we will get caught up in the enigmas and not find the critical burden of this parable. This parable is presented to reveal the importance of perseverance in prayer. The story speaks of a widow without friends, who obtained justice from a wicked magistrate by her sheer importunity, incessantly crying out to the magistrate. The judge stated privately, “Though I fear not God, nor regard man, yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.” Note our Lord’s application of the parable: “Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?” If importunity obtained so much from a wicked man, then how much more will it obtain for the children of God from the Righteous Judge, their Father in heaven?

Oh, the daily thoughts that come to our mind about the circumstances confronting us or of all that we are reading and witnessing from our country at this time! If we are not careful, the sheer volume of distress, perplexities, violence, and cares of life will consume our mind in thinking that everything is about to fall apart and what can be done. The private inclination that comes to the heart is to hurry our prayers, or to shorten our prayers, or to become careless about our prayers, or to cease our prayers altogether. We must ever remember that God does have His elect on earth and that they are in His special care. But we must ever be in the spiritual posture of prayer to keep at bay the powers of fainting.

What is the evidence of God’s elect at this hour in history? In 1 Thessalonians 1:3, 4, Paul declares, “Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father; Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.” But Christ stated at the end of the parable in Luke 18:8, “Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” Christ Himself reveals that true faith will be very scarce at the end of the age. And faith is most important for prayer. How sad it is that most Christians in our day tend to only pray when they are in a pressing circumstance or some tangible need. Prayer only drawn upon in times of emergency reveals that prayer is not the norm of one’s Christian living. Will we pray or will we faint at this crucial hour in history? God’s people ought always to pray and not faint.