Will Christians suffer the Great Tribulation?

  1. God does not subject His children to wrath. This is true, but the wrath of the devil, who knows his time is short, is another matter. Far from predicting a rose garden life, Jesus Himself warned us that because the world hated Him, it would hate us. With the exception of the West, persecution has indeed been the normal reality for the church throughout the ages. We are certainly exempted from God’s wrath, of course. But much of what I read in Revelation seems to be the work of the evil one.
  2. The absence of any mention of the Church in Revelation 4-19. No, the word “Church” does not appear in those chapters, but just who are the crowd mentioned in chapter 7? “These are they which came out of the Great Tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb”. Well, as far as I can tell, that is a description of the Church. Not a small crowd. Not 144,000. Not only Jewish. From every tribe and tongue on Earth.
  3. The imminent return of Christ. Mark 13:28-33 is the parable of the fig tree. He tells us that we will not know the exact day of His return, but when the signs begin to appear, we can know that the time is near. The generation that sees these signs will also see the second coming.
  4. The Church’s restraint of the antichrist. II Thessalonians does not identify the church, or the Holy Spirit, as the One who is hindering the antichrist from coming. In fact, John tells us that the spirit of the antichrist is already with us. Perhaps a mighty angel is restraining him, like the one restraining Apollyon in Chapter nine verse 11.

In his book “Restoring the Vision of the End Times Church”, author Vernon Kuenzi identifies the importance of one’s view of the end times. Referring to A.W. Tozier, Kuenzi writes that “The more crucial an issue concerning the Church, the more likely the enemy will inject deception and lies into that issue” (Page 25). Kuenzi summarizes that either the pre-tribulation rapture is correct, or it is not. There would not be any compromise. If it is a deception, Satan is certainly behind it. His concern is that if it is correct, and the saints have prepared to go through the tribulation, there would be no harm done. But what if the saints were holding onto a doctrine that says no tribulation, and then find themselves in the midst of it? Would not their love grow cold? Would not there be a great falling away?

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Hi Olivier,

There are three basic views on the Rapture of the Church. One is a Pre Tribulation Rapture which means before Tribulation, the second is a Mid Tribulation rapture which is half way through the tribulation and the third is a Post Tribulation Rapture which as its name implies occurs after the Tribulation. There are other variances of these but these are the main views. It does seem to me that the current church teaching on these things is a bit light on with a greater focus on social gospel and stuff like that. My personal view is that I believe, like you, in a Pre Tribulation Rapture event. Others do not and without going into the reasons for or against, which by the way is a large discussion, it is natural that people now turn their minds to end time theology motivated by Corvid 19.

No one can truly say this virus is a specific end time event. It would be very reasonable to conclude it has global ramifications that could be used by those with a global agenda, like chipping the population, one world economy and so on. It will lay the groundwork for global changes, especially when the world tries to rebuild its economy.

I think for the believer in Christ we can only consider two options. One is to respond in fear and allow ourselves to be sheep to the governments of this world or we respond in faith and trust in Gods hand in whatever we find ourselves. Its a fear or faith scenario in my mind. A world that does not see faith opposing fear will be easily led in to captivity through fear.

It is 100% certain that this virus is challenging peoples worldview at the core and so opportunity to engage there is all around us. I think we need to speak to people about their fears and anxieties and ask them what it is they had been trusting in before the virus? Challenge the core beliefs. The fear and needs of the people is where their needs are being triggered from. Speak to them and you open doors for Christ.
So, is this virus a sign of a coming rapture or tribulation period? I can say that each day is a day closer to that time. It may help if you thin of the rapture like a chess game. Each move is a move closer to checkmate. I cant say if this virus is exactly that. No one can but it is my opinion that we are getting closer to checkmate each day and this virus may well be a large move towards that. The best thing believers can do is stand firm in faith, show the love of Christ, tell the world and people you know, who ask, about him when given a chance and leave it up to each person to consider Christ as He Himself allows them to do so.

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Good evening @manbrooks – welcome to the discussion, and thank you for addressing these first four points regarding a pre-tribulation rapture with me. I understand that there is great interest in this topic these days, and I’m sure we all want to improve our understanding of it. Perhaps our conversation can help clarify in our own minds what the Bible teaches about these things.

And please pardon the length of my reply, but you have asked some very excellent and important questions.

Regarding the first point – I’m glad that you agree God does not subject His children to wrath. And I think we’d all agree that the devil’s wrath has been directed at God’s people since the beginning and will continue to the end.

You mention that much of what you read in the Revelation is the devil’s work. In the context of this point, I took you to mean that you see the wrath in the Revelation as primarily Satan’s wrath against God’s people. (Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.)

But the word “wrath” appears 13 times in the Revelation – once being the devil’s great wrath in 12:12, and the other 12 times being the wrath of God.

Now, the devil being wrathful is hardly unusual. But for God, Whose patience and mercy is unparalleled, to finally display His wrath – I think that is really epic!

The end of I Thessalonians 4 describes the rapture, then the beginning of the next chapter continues on to describe the Tribulation – the day of the Lord that comes as a thief in the night (v 2) – sudden destruction as travail upon a woman with child (v 3) – the day of darkness that overtakes people as a thief (v 4). But then he begins describing how these things will not come upon the brethren, the children of light, and he encourages them for a couple of verses before saying in verse 9, For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ. In the context of those verses, I have to say that it really looks like the Tribulation is primarily the wrath of God, and He has not appointed us to endure it.

Regarding the second point – it’s good that you recognize that the Church is not mentioned in the Tribulation story. But you wonder if the innumerable crowd from all nations in chapter 7 who’ve washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb might not be the Church after all? Because that surely sounds like how we’re used to hearing the church described – we even have songs in our church hymnals using that language.

But it may surprise you to learn that this language is never used elsewhere in the New Testament for the church. In fact, it is only found in this verse here in Revelation 7:14.

Now, I do not say this to deny that the church is indeed made white in the blood of the Lamb – of course we are. My real point is that believers in every age have always been made white in the blood of the lamb. (See Daniel 11:35 and 12:10.) So no, this is not a description that the Bible ever uses specifically of the Church. These are converts of the 144,000 Jewish evangelists who are carrying the gospel to the ends of the earth during the seven-year Tribulation.

Regarding the third point – you are right that when people see the many signs such as the sun darkening, the moon turning red, the stars falling and so forth, then they can know that the day of His appearing in clouds with power and glory is at hand. Every eye shall see Him as He goes to battle against the antichrist at Armageddon, rescues Jerusalem, and sets up His Kingdom.

So obviously when Jesus says in Matthew 24:36 that of that day and hour knows no man, not even the angels – when He tells His disciples in Acts 1:7 that it is not for them to know the times or the seasons (see also I Thessalonians 5:1-2), then He cannot be talking about the revelation of Christ at the end of the Tribulation. He is talking about when His second coming unexpectedly begins at the rapture. Anyone who had been putting off salvation by that point is left behind – foolish virgins with no oil.

Regarding the fourth point – it is true that I John 4:3 tells us the spirit of antichrist is already in the world. It has been in the world from the apostle’s time until now. Obviously someone (referred to as he in verse 7) has been keeping the antichrist at bay through these many centuries. Who has been restraining the spirit of antichrist from New Testament times until now?

You question whether it is the Spirit of Christ working through the Church since the word “Church” is not used. But in verse 1 Paul says, we beseech you brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him. Now that language can hardly mean anyone but the Church. And it is by that coming and gathering that he beseeches them not to believe Christ’s day of judgment is at hand (v 2). It won’t come until whoever is hindering the mystery of iniquity is taken out of the way (v 7). But when he is taken, the world goes into a moral freefall allowing the man of sin to rise at last.

Paul says in verses 5-6 that he’s only reminding them of things he’d already explained when he’d been with them before. And now that he’s reminded them, he’s confident they’ll remember what’s restraining the antichrist.

So, who exactly did he remind them of that gets taken out of the way in this passage? He didn’t mention any angels being removed. The only ones he beseeches them to not be troubled about is them – they’re the ones who’ll be gathered out of this world.

Postscript – rather than commenting on books by great men (since of making many books there is no end – Ecclesiastes 12:12), I’ll just close with this, because I think it is very relevant to the entire discussion.

We all agree that the people of God are going to endure many hardships during the Tribulation. If one assumes that the rapture comes at the end, then they’re going to say that the people of God who are being persecuted throughout it are Christians, the Church. If one assumes that the rapture comes at the beginning, then they’re going to say that the persecuted people of God are the Jews who have finally come to realize that Jesus is their true Messiah.

One of the biggest reasons that I believe the rapture is first is because of how I view the purpose of the Tribulation to begin with. The Tribulation is all about how God saves Israel – not how He saves the Church.

I’ve noted that the church is never mentioned in the Tribulation story, nor any language that is specific to the church. But there’s a great deal of language that identifies the Tribulation overcomers as believing Jews.

There are the two witnesses, “Moses and Elijah”-like figures (possibly even Moses and Elijah themselves), who preach from the beginning of the Tribulation until the middle of it in Jerusalem.

There are the 144,000 Jewish evangelists – called “first fruits” – presumably Moses and Elijah’s first converts. As God promised through Abraham, all nations are finally being blessed through Israel.

There is the conversion of Jerusalem (Revelation 12:8) after the earthquake in Revelation 12:13…

…and this conversion incites Satan’s wrath and the antichrist’s persecution of Israel – the woman clothed with the sun, the moon under her feet and the twelve stars about her head – an obvious reference to Israel from Genesis 37:9-11.

The plagues upon the antichrist in Revelation 16 parallel the plagues upon Pharaoh in the time of Moses.

The symbolisms throughout these chapters come from Old Testament books like Daniel and Zechariah – books Jews should be familiar with – not from imagery elsewhere in the New Testament that Jews would not recognize.

And both the Old and New Testament references to the Tribulation identify it as a time of trouble for Israel – but never for the church.

Jeremiah 30:7 – Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble, but he shall be saved out of it.

Daniel 12:1, And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.

Matthew 24:14-15, When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:

Romans 11:25-26, blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, there shall come out of Zion the Deliverer and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.

I hope this helps you see this from a new perspective.

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Well, thanks for your thorough answer. I do not agree that the Church is raptured before the events of Revelation, but at least now I understand your point. Namely, that the judgments of Revelation do not apply to the Gentiles, only to the Jews. The crowd found in Chapter 7, obviously Gentile, have come to faith after the rapture through the witness of the 144,000. Of course, as Piper notes, this requires two comings of Christ, one to take up His Church, then another at the end of the Great Tribulation to receive the Kingdom with the saints. We do agree that there are saints, whether you call them the Church or not, who are coming out the Great Tribulation, who have washed their robes white in the Blood of the Lamb. They are from every nation tribe and tongue, so mostly Gentile. From your viewpoint, why is Piper wrong about there being only one Coming?

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Well, I am very glad that you understand my view better now. We all want to be understood, and I know it took time to read and think through all of that.

As for my answer to Pastor Piper, actually, if you scroll up to the very first post - Olivia’s original question - she inserts an interview with Pastor Piper. And the very first response to her original question is my answer to Pastor Piper’s claim that this constitutes two Second Comings of the Lord.

In short, until I heard Pastor Piper call it that, I’d never heard anyone describe the Lord’s return as multiple comings. Nobody I know believes what he is criticizing. When the Lord returns for His church, He does not then go back to heaven - He stays here and goes to war for seven years against all the kingdoms of this world - and He remains here until He finishes this war at Armageddon where He finally reveals Himself to the world. His first coming lasted 33 years, His second coming lasts 7. But they’re the only two “Comings” that the Bible ever mentions.

But, if you get a chance, you can scroll up and read it as I wrote it a few days ago.

May God help us all put the puzzle pieces together to get a clearer picture of Christ!

PS - that crowd in white appearing with Him in Revelation 19:7-8 and 14 - that’s us riding behind Him out of the clouds where we’ve been with Him for the last seven years!

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This has been exactly my concern with the segment of the Body of Christ that is “absolutely sure” that the rapture will occur before the tribulation. I wonder too, if they will discount the appearance of the Anti-Christ because they don’t believe it could pan out that way. Then what? I am not completely sure how/when it will all happen, but the possibility of a deception here by Satan seems only too real.

About 20 years ago, the Lord began to impress on me the importance for the Church to be preparing for what is to come. With current events as they are, one has to wonder if we are at a tipping point for a cascade of “future events” to become the present reality. My husband and I are busy about the business of ‘preparation’, with our eyes firmly fixed upon the Lord Jesus, and finding that our vision is becoming more and more single as the weeks go by. The Lord is on His throne and He is doing a work in His Body at this time (well, yes, all the time, but you kwim :wink: )

I’m going to check out that booklet by Kuenzi (a good Swiss name, btw :slight_smile: ) and Tozer, is the author of the seminal (for my life) work, The Pursuit of God, which I just finished reading for the 4th or 5th time.

Thanks for your thoughtful post.

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I have friends who stand firmly in both camps, pre-trib rapture and persevering through the Great Tribulation. It makes my heart sad to see the divisions that this has caused between my friends. My view was greatly decided at a funeral of my sister in-law’s younger brother, who was just 18 when he died.
Their father spoke at his son’s funeral on the Second Coming of Christ. ( he was a lay person, not an ordained minister).
His son had been missing for 3 months. His son had been dealing in drugs and had recently joined a gang.
At the funeral the church was packed and there were many of his son’s friends, gang members, family members/relatives and friends from their community.
As the father spoke about his son, about the choices his son had made in his life, and how everyone loved his son, and how his heart broke over his son’s early death for there was to be so much more life to share with his son.
Then he shared what it was like to have his son go missing for 3 months…and how the family prayed for him…then the police came to knock at their door and tell them that they had found their son body in a ditch, a few miles away.
So the father talked about the two camps of thought of the pre-trib rapture or persevering through the Tribulation, when Jesus will come to take us home with Him for eternity.We often think that we will live to an old age and we put off thinking about where and when we will spend eternity, that we will deal with that issue later or another day, but not today.
The Father said it no longer was an issue for him, pre-trib rapture or persevering through the Tribulation. But he encouraged everyone there to consider Jesus, his life, death and resurrection today. Believing in Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins and to ask Jesus to come and live in their hearts today… as we don’t know when Jesus will return to take all believers home with Him, you see, Jesus came for his son 3 months ago.
Many of the gang members and the son’s Grandmother gave their hearts to Jesus at the end of the service.
For myself, I have come to live each day with the wonder and expectation of;
“Jesus is today, the day You’ll come to take me home with You?”

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A little humor here
I am a Post-Trib person and was in a discussion with a Pre-Trib friend. We were both well-versed in our positions.
We finished the conversation with him telling me: I will grab you on my way up. I responded: I’ll make sure I have a place for you at my place in the mountains.
I believed the Lord smiled at this exchange.
Dan

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Dan,
What a great response to one another, yes, I believed the Lord smiled at this exchange.
I smiled too.

Delcie

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Evening Olivia,

Can I ask you a question “if we all get raptured during the times of tribulation” who will be here to share God’s word and show them God’s mercy?

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@David_Cieszynski

Hi! That is a good point. Although I lean more towards the pre-trib view, I still have an open mind to the post-trib and even mid-trib views.

@Sojourner I am sad to hear that the different views of the Great Tribulation caused division between your friends!

Like I said, I still have an open mind to it, especially since I have a lot of reading/studying to do. I encourage all opinions/explanations because they have surely helped me in the past!

@jlyons I agree with you about the Second Coming. I never considered the rapture the return of Christ, as it is described in the Bible, where the whole world will see Him in His glory, whereas the rapture will happen very quickly. That was the first time I have heard of “multiple comings,” as well.

Have we all considered who the twenty-four elders are? They are mentioned in Revelation 4:10, before the Lamb opens the seven seals. This is something that has quite a few different opinions about, as well. Now, I can honestly say I have no idea about this yet. I have heard some say the 24 elders represents the entire body of the Church, and I have also heard some say they represent the 12 prophets and the 12 disciples. If one believes they represent the Church, then they have to believe in the pre-trib view. Ron explains why he believes the 24 elders represent the Church in this video. I thought this was interesting, but I have not “settled” on an opinion for myself as of yet.

Although this is a very interesting topic (obviously :grin:) and although this could occur even after my lifetime, I still tell myself to be prepared for whatever it is to come, whether it be the rapture or the great tribulation, and to hold on tight to my faith. (And also, not to spend too much time thinking about it, as it then could be unhealthy and steer my focus away from the bigger picture!)

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Yes, the 24 elders about the throne most likely represent Christians for the following reasons (which, I think, are mostly the same as were articulated in the video you provided):

I Chonicles 24 describes how priests in the OT, who had become too numerous to all serve in the temple simultaneously, were divided into 24 courses to serve a week of “temple duty” during the first half of the year, and a second week again in the second half of the year (all priests came together for the three annual major feasts). Revelation 1:6 presents all believers in the Church Age as a NT priesthood. Too numerous to all appear in John’s vision, these 24 elders appear to correspond to the OT courses to represent all the believers of the Church Age.

Revelation 1:6 also presents Christians as kings. During the Millennium in Revelation 20, saints will reign upon thrones with Christ - which Hebrews 2:5 says that angels will not do. These elders sitting upon thrones and wearing crowns suggests that they are redeemed men rather than angels.

Their white raiment is interpreted for us in Revelation 19:8 as the righteousness of saints, further clarifying their identity.

Also, the only elders ever mentioned elsewhere in the Bible are spiritual leaders in churches and synagogues.

The crowns worn by these elders are their rewards dispensed at the Judgment Seat of Christ (II Timothy 4:8). That they already wear them so early in John’s vision suggests that this judgment is the first event for believers after the rapture (Revelation 22:12).

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Good question, @David_Cieszynski. Below I have pasted an excerpt from a previous post to explain this (I don’t blame you for not having already read it above - it can be a lot to wade through if you’re only looking for the answer to one quick question).

We all agree that the people of God are going to endure many hardships during the Tribulation. If one assumes that the rapture comes at the end, then they’re going to say that the people of God who are being persecuted throughout it are Christians, the Church. If one assumes that the rapture comes at the beginning, then they’re going to say that the persecuted people of God are the Jews who have finally come to realize that Jesus is their true Messiah.

One of the biggest reasons that I believe the rapture is first is because of how I view the purpose of the Tribulation to begin with. The Tribulation is all about how God saves Israel – not how He saves the Church.

I’ve noted that the church is never mentioned in the Tribulation story, nor any language that is specific to the church. But there’s a great deal of language that identifies the Tribulation overcomers as believing Jews.

There are the two witnesses, “Moses and Elijah”-like figures (possibly even Moses and Elijah themselves), who preach from the beginning of the Tribulation until the middle of it in Jerusalem.

There are the 144,000 Jewish evangelists – called “first fruits” – presumably Moses and Elijah’s first converts. As God promised through Abraham, all nations are finally being blessed through Israel.

There is the conversion of Jerusalem (Revelation 12:8) after the earthquake in Revelation 12:13…

…and this conversion incites Satan’s wrath and the antichrist’s persecution of Israel – the woman clothed with the sun, the moon under her feet and the twelve stars about her head – an obvious reference to Israel from Genesis 37:9-11.

The plagues upon the antichrist in Revelation 16 parallel the plagues upon Pharaoh in the time of Moses.

The symbolisms throughout these chapters come from Old Testament books like Daniel and Zechariah – books Jews should be familiar with – not from imagery elsewhere in the New Testament that Jews would not recognize.

And both the Old and New Testament references to the Tribulation identify it as a time of trouble for Israel – but never for the church.

Jeremiah 30:7 – Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble, but he shall be saved out of it .

Daniel 12:1, And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people : and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered , every one that shall be found written in the book.

Matthew 24:14-15, When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:

Romans 11:25-26, blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, there shall come out of Zion the Deliverer and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.

I hope this helps you to see who the Revelation itself says is primarily evangelizing during the Tribulation.

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Brother Kuenzi died about 10 years ago, but the book is still available on Amazon. The Pretribulation rapture position is not without some scriptural support, but it seems unlikely that the church would go from zero to the multitude found in chapter seven in only seven years.

Here is something else I wonder. Who are the Millennium saints? Are they only those who came out of the Great Tribulation? Will there also be nonbelievers alive then? Jesus rules with a rod of iron, something He would not need if all were believers? Will there be death? Death is the last enemy to be defeated.

Good question, @manbooks. The Millenial saints are the converted Tribulation survivors. Matthew 25:31-46 describes a post-Tribulation scene that happens immediately prior to the Kingdom. The Son of Man sitting on the throne of his glory gathers all nations before him and sets the sheep on the right, goats on the left. The sheep will enter into the Kingdom, the goats will be cast into outer darkness. The transformed nature of the sheep was demonstrated by how they harbored and supported one another at great personal risk during the holocaust of the Tribulation.

So the only Tribulation survivors who will be allowed into the Millennial Kingdom will be those who were converted during the seven-year nightmare. Could the whole world be evangelized in a mere seven years? Well, the falling judgments will greatly reduce the populations - except the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh would be saved. And the Lord’s hand is not shortened - He could surely energize His servants to do what men think is impossible.

These believing Tribulation survivors will repopulate the world. Their descendants will be born into a peaceable kingdom with no Satan, no war, no poverty. But they will be mortals with a sin nature who will need salvation just as every generation back to Adam has needed.

Their lifespans in that world will be as long as those before the flood (Isaiah 65:20-22). But though death will be mitigated, it will still be the wages of mankind’s mitigated sin.

And after a thousand years of perfect rule, Satan will be released a final time to try the generations born into this seemingly utopian environment. And all who never turned to Christ for salvation will be deceived by him into joining the final rebellion of lost mankind.

Mankind’s final failure will end the mortal ages - the fallen creation will pass away - the lost of all ages will be judged at the Great White Throne, along with Satan and Death, the last enemy - the new creation will follow where all sin and death will be forever passed!

(You may wonder why people born into a perfect Kingdom with access to Christ in Jerusalem for a thousand years would never receive Him as Savior! The Bible doesn’t actually tells us that, but here in the Bible Belt, I’ve met many people who assume they’re Christians because they’ve lived all their lives in a Christian environment - “Hey, we’re good people, so of course we’re ‘saved’!” I’m guessing people living in that world and hearing about how bad people used to be will probably think something like that. Just my two cents on that one - for what it’s worth.)

I hope this answers what you were wondering about.