The Christian’s HOPE is that death is not the end – and that our suffering has purpose and meaning in God’s economy. In her devotional Joni Eareckson Tada, a quadriplegic and breast cancer survivor, comforted those of us in tight places by commenting on Revelation 5:
Then one of the elders said to me, 'Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed.' Revelation 5:5
Could this be the day the Lord returns, Joni wonders –
. . . If so, you will experience for the first time what it feels like to be pure and blameless. . . . You will know family members and friends as God intended them to be all along, their best attributes shining brightly, and their worst traits gone with the wind. . . . No confused thoughts, no mental illness, no Alzheimer's disease.
. . . If you faced deep heartache and disappointment this year, take encouragement that soon the Lamb who sits on the throne - the Lion of the tribe of Judah - will triumph. Every tear will be wiped away. Let this fact encourage you for the weeks and months ahead. Commit afresh and anew to deepen your walk with Jesus Christ in the New Year, preserving for yourself "a rich inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade - kept in heaven for you" (I Peter 1:4).
I am weeping this morning because a lovely acquaintance apparently chose to end her life in the parking lot of the gun store from whence she had just purchased a handgun. (A Tribute) She was a welcoming light as we relocated in Dallas – and offered counsel and friendship in that transition. She loved the Lord Jesus Christ – what burdens she bore that robbed her of strength to carry on, I cannot say. I know there were times God brought her to mind, and I did not follow through with a call.
Following through – and offering to bear one another’s burdens – is something Christ commanded, and Paul urged. (Matthew 5:41-42, Galatians 6:12) Following through, though, has practical applications we often miss in the busyness of each day. It takes time we often do not have – or choose not to offer. It means sacrificing . . . giving up or giving overtime and stuff I don’t want to give up.
New Years Eve is a time to reflect upon how I spent my time – and how I will spend it, God willing. Surveying all the suffering in the midst of joy boggles my mind and challenges my faith in an infinite, personal God. Knowing that people are angry at God because He permits suffering saddens me – especially when they ignore the Cross. Therefore, being reminded by one who has suffered, Joni, reminds me to look at Christ as deeply as I do all the inexplicable heartaches, the cause or end of which I cannot fathom.