One of the most difficult problems in any Christian's life is having faith in the midst of problems. Sometimes, we try to strengthen our faith by establishing a deadline to "hold out" until. If I can just make it to Friday, then I have the whole weekend to recover. Or, if we can just make it past Johnny's third birthday, things will have to get better. The disciples were asking for a deadline. How long do we hold out? What all do we have to put up with before You come back? How bad do things have to get before You step in? Faith would be a lot easier if it came with an expiration date.
In answer to their question, Christ does not answer the first question. He goes far enough to tell them when the kingdom of God will be near and at hand, but He never told them exactly when. Why? One reason could be found in Matthew 24:36, "But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only." God the Father has chosen not to reveal the specific timing of when Christ will return. Another reason I believe that it is not revealed is that faith is believing in what is not seen. I exercise my faith when I see spiritually what I cannot see physically. If I could see the date that Christ will return circled on the calendar, I would probably have an easier time getting ready for His return. But that is not truly faith. "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
I do not know the exact date, but I do know what Christ told them to do. He gave them signs of His coming in conjunction with instructions for their lives until His coming. He told them not to be deceived. They were to understand that men would try to deceive them into believing a lie. Some proclaim to be Christ when they are not. Others proclaim that they are of Christ when they are not. He warned them not to be distracted. Persecutions will arise, wars will rage, earthquakes and famines will abound. In the midst of trying to survive in this world running away from God, we must be careful not to be distracted by life. He told them that these things would turn into a testimony for them if they would stay focused. He also warned them not to be discouraged. We are supposed to settle our hearts in the midst of persecution, be patient in the midst of betrayal, and be calm in the presence of war. We are to lift up our heads, for our redemption draweth nigh.
As a child of God in a world run by the devil, there is a lot we can focus on. We can spend our days looking around at the problems, or looking down in discouragement. Or, we can spend our days looking up in faith. I do not know what day Christ will come again, but I do know it will be one day. It does not have to be marked on my calendar if it is imprinted on my heart.