“My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one” (John 17:15-16 NIV).
The one event that will occur for all Christians is the departure from this world to be with Jesus. At present, we are soldiers in the Lord’s army who are fighting the good fight of faith. Therefore, stand your ground and pray for protection from the evil one. However, the day will come when we enter into the joy of the Lord. Jesus prays that we may eventually be with Him where He is. But He does not ask the Father to take us out of the world. He desires that we stay here on earth.
When we encounter trouble, we forget that God is a very present help, thus we become weary. We might pray that if we had wings we would just fly away and be at rest. When asked why, many Christians will answer, “we would go home to be with the Lord”. We want to be with the Lord when we encounter difficulty. But our desire is not to be with the Lord, but to get rid of our troubles. But Jesus does not pray that way. He prays that we will eventually be with Him, but that we remain in the world for now. He wishes that we remain here, so He asks the Father to protect us from the devil.
While we remain on the battlefield, we should pray as Jesus prayed. Pray that we are not taken out of the world but that we are protected from the Evil One. It is profitable to the kingdom of God that we remain in the world. It is needful to others, for the harvest of souls has not yet come.
Our reason for wanting to depart from this world is selfish, for our desire is more that we escape trouble than be with the Lord. Rather than pray to escape trouble, we should pray that God would continue to protect us from the evil one, that we may live a life on earth that would be pleasing to God. Leave it in God’s hands to say when we have fought the good fight of faith.
Now every Christian should look forward to the day when we are caught up to meet the Lord in the air. But while we remain, we should have the same spirit that Paul had. Paul knew that it was gain for him to die, but it would be profitable for Christ that he would stay on earth. Therefore, stand your ground and continue to fight the good fight of faith. Let your desire to glorify God by your life here as long as He pleases, even though it be amid toil, conflict, and suffering, and leave Him to say when “enough is enough.”