"An Ever-Present Help In Trouble."
“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9, NASB
“We can live forever if you’ve got the time.” My Chemical Romance, “Save Yourself, I’ll Hold Them Back”
WHERE IS GOD WORKING?
Following Jesus is joyous, significant, and fun. God made us, and he knows what we truly enjoy. Many of us were drawn to Jesus by the loving relationships, freedom from past hurts, and sense of purpose provided by God. But all of us will go through seasons of life where those joys are less obvious. Those times can be difficult to understand. Maybe you can relate: “Where are You in the midst of my pain, God?” “Why aren’t You helping?” “Why won’t You take away my addiction? My disease?” “Why won’t You help me follow You better?”
The short answer is found in Isaiah 55:9 – “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.”
Simply, two points:
1. God is working a bigger plan than we can understand. It will be revealed at the end times as spectacular, powerful, romantic, dazzling, daring, scandalous, lush, loving, kind and merciful – among hundreds of other adjectives.
2. Compared with that, the desires desires we have for our lives – as Godly as they may seem – are as CS Lewis said: “like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea.” God’s plan is more creative and more exciting than our own.
WHAT DOES GOD PROMISE?
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” (Jeremiah 29:11)
That’s what God says. Yet it is a universal experience of Christians that God simply does not give us everything (or even most things) we ask for. Even good things (freedom from disease or addiction, salvation of a family member, a happy marriage – among many others) God seems to withhold at times.
You and I are not unique in this experience. Describing the most Godly and spiritual people to ever follow God, He says: “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.” (Hebrews 11:13)
Why? To remind us of our true hope: “But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior.” (Philippians 3:20)
TRUE GLORY IS FOR THE NEXT LIFE
I won’t bother trying to write it any better than God Himself does: “Then I saw ‘a new heaven and a new earth,’ for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)
God promises us a beautiful, perfect, joyful life in eternity; it won’t be found in this life.
God does not promise us an easy or even a happy life in this world. There is much beauty and joy to be found in following Him; don’t mistake following Christ as a life of drudgery. The friendships, love and mercy in the Body of Christ are phenomenal, but they are not what they will one day be in the next life.
What God does promise about our time on earth is that following him is a good life: the only life with eternal hope.
WHAT'S THIS LIFE FOR?
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you...” (John 15:5a)
Hold fast to Christ. Remain following Him through the chaos of life and choose to look forward to God fulfilling His promises perfectly, joyously, and eternally in the next life.
“This side of the Fall, true goodness comes by surprise, the old writings tell us, enthralling us for a moment in heaven’s time... like Indian summer, where the last lavish banquet of golds and yellows and reds stirs our deepest joy and sadness, even as they promise us they will return in the fragrance of spring.” (“The Sacred Romance,” Curtis & Eldredge)
Know that even in our pains, “...God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (Romans 8:28)
“...you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5b)
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:10)
With these promises in mind, we have the glorious opportunity of taking great risks for God. We can give time and money on earth to reach the lost and serve others because we know our own lives are secure! (And God will safeguard us better and more lavishly than we could ourselves.)
Where are you clinging desperately to your own security? Where does God want you to let go and trust His promises? Will you make the time to live for forever?