Romans 11:33-36

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Heading Home

The puritan Thomas Watson said, “Affliction may be lasting, but it is not everlasting.” Peter reminds his readers that their suffering is for “a little while” (1 Peter 1:6; 5:10). The trouble is that when we are going though it, it seems like forever. In saying this we do not wish to minimize the daily slog of unrelenting illness or the peculiar challenges of caring for an invalid loved one. But in light of eternity even seventy years is the blink of an eye. This raises the accompanying issue: If we are devoid of a theology of suffering, we are in danger of marginalizing our expectations of heaven. 

The root problem is the same in both cases: a preoccupation with the here and now and the me and mine combined with the idea of getting things right down here. If we conclude that we are now to experience total healing, unfettered joy, unparalleled success, and freedom from pain, then why be concerned about heaven? How did Paul handle his sufferings and encourage the church to face theirs? Not by trying to produce heaven on earth but by recognizing that for the Christian the best is yet to be. He took the moment and put it in the larger context of God’s unfolding purpose, not only for time but also in eternity. This perspective allowed him to write as follows: 

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen in eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16–18) 

Today there is death and tears, mourning and pain, but one day these will all be a thing of the past. 

When I was about twelve, I went on a camping trip with a youth group in Royal Deeside. A group of us left the base camp to trek into the hills. The backpacks were heavy, the journey long, and the amenities nonexistent. But our leader kept saying, “Wait ‘til you see the view from the top!” There were a number of occasions on the trek when I sincerely doubted whether I would ever make the top to see the view, or that there would be something worth seeing. But he was right, and the great panoramic view of God’s creation took our breath away. To a boy, we concluded that the journey had been worth it. While we hiked, our leader taught us to sing an old hymn, the words of which have stayed with me through the years: 

A few more marchings weary, then we’ll gather home
A few more storm clouds dreary, then we’ll gather home
O’er time’s rapid river soon we’ll rest forever
No more marching’s weary when we gather home! 
The point is clear: No matter how tough the journey, we are heading home. 

—Alistair Begg, Made for His Pleasure: Ten Benchmarks of a Vital Faith


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