“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” –Revelation 21:4
This verse comes to my mind often, but no more intensely than when I have the great privilege of hospital visits. We live in the time of “former things” which will one day pass away by the authority of Christ who rights all wrongs.
On my way to see a Jesus follower suffering in a hospital room, I have a tendency to look into other rooms. I see people alone and hear them moan in pain. I am moved by the sea of people suffering without purpose, dying without hope, and lying in bed in loneliness. Current suffering finds no present help in any future relief.
The Christian’s suffering, by God’s grace, is a different experience. Not in the level of pain, but in the level of aim. Paul, who had suffered greatly, said “this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (IICorinthians 4:17). We go through the same painful experiences that are common to all people, but we consider them “light” and “momentary” because Jesus will wipe away our tears for the final time when He completes His glorious Kingdom work.
Our encouragement does not begin in the future, but is present now. For our sovereign God also has purpose to our affliction. The heat of the fire purifies us from worldliness while we are still in the world to display to the world the glory of the grace of God. God is kind to us to provide such sweet mercies when we experience the deepest of pains as our present help (Psalm 46:1). What if afflictions’ purpose is to depend upon and desire our God more? This is truly what is best for us and for His glory.
Even the afflictions that seem to present very little blessing to us now seems light and momentary when our imagination ascends to the joys of glory awaiting us. Our afflictions are light compared to what Christ took for us, and momentary because of the hope He gives us of eternal joys.
Our heavenly Father, give Your children wisdom to see clearly the lessons You teach through trials and a vision of the eternal joys that await us when we are in pain. Remind us daily of Your grace in Christ who took our greatest affliction, receiving the greatest joy of heavenly treasures. We ask for Your mercy in Christ’s precious Name. Amen.