Most humans love to have a happy ending at the end of the year. Christians are no exception. Staff of companies, government servants, etc. all look forward to a useful bonus from their bosses. Children anticipate their parents giving them a holiday treat e.g. more pocket money to buy what they like. The sense of anticipation causes one to be happy and generous.
Hope fulfilled is a joy! However, a disappointment is a let-down and a pain in the neck! My family and I just visited a former church member in Sentul. A widower for several years, he lives with the youngest son who takes good care of him. All his life, he lives humbly as a Christian serving in a local church. Then recently he fell at home, fracturing his left leg. Before this incident, he enjoys his retirement days; he has enough to live on with a roof overhead. Now that he is housebound, he is mad with God for his limitations. He was happy to see us but was depressed over his condition. He was very disappointed with God for forsaking him though his caring son keeps reminding him that God has taken care of him for 87 years. Why not continue to trust him and give thanks to Him instead!
A school teacher once wrote in my autobiography booklet:
“If you want to be depressed, look to yourself;
If you want to be disappointed, look to others;
But if you want to be victorious, look to Jesus.”
Since then, I have found this to be true. Having experienced the trials of earthly life in severity, and of all sorts, there is no way a person can be 100% happy without God in Jesus Christ. One friend may love you but another may slander you; one relative may be loyal to you but another may betray you. Sometimes I feel like a born loser. What is the use of trying to do the right thing anymore!
Pause to ponder
Let us see what God’s word says about this…
Before Jesus’s first advent in history
It is recorded in Proverbs 8 where Jesus is personified as wisdom speaking…
“I was there when he set the heavens in place,
when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep,
28 when he established the clouds above
and fixed securely the fountains of the deep,
29 when he gave the sea its boundary
so the waters would not overstep his command,
and when he marked out the foundations of the earth.
30 Then I was constantly[e] at his side.
I was filled with delight day after day,
rejoicing always in his presence,
31 rejoicing in his whole world
and delighting in mankind.”
This was before sin entered the world. Jesus, the Son of God expresses His freedom and joy in the presence of His Father. Work was enjoyment and the whole creation was like His playground. That was what He intended for His creation!
His written word in the form of the Bible tells us what happened after sin appeared to influence mankind and the rest of creation. The rest is still our history of a sin sick world on the mend by His death and resurrection for us. If Jesus did not rise up from the dead about 2000 years ago, to be the witness of His atonement for sin, we would still be in our sinful condition waiting for hell. We in the 21st century can only look back to see the tragedies and struggles mankind and the natural environment have gone through; we will still moan and groan hopelessly under the consequences of sin (Romans 8).
Yet because God is real and merciful and just, we can rejoice with hope of salvation at the close of this age, we do not have to suffer without hope BECAUSE Jesus has taken away our sin and its just punishment and resurrected to ensure our homecoming will happen!
Therefore, let us encourage one another to press on with joy as the best is yet to come! Our heavenly Father has prepared a place for us where there is no presence of sin and its consequences (Revelation 21:1-10), where there will be no power of sin to tempt and torture us BECAUSE Jesus the Lamb of God fully paid the redemption price for us! If the Son of God has made us free, we are free indeed! Everything has been ‘kau tim’ (sorted out in Cantonese).
So what do we do while waiting for the homecoming?
Before Jesus’s second advent in history
John tells us in Revelations 19:6-10…
“Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:
For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come
And His bride has made herself ready.
Fine linen, bright and clean,
Was given her to wear.’
(Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)
Then the angle said to me, ‘Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’ And he added, ‘These are the true words of God.’
At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, ‘Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.’”
Since this is what God desires for us, let us do good works while waiting for that day when Jesus comes for His bride prepared for Him.
Indeed, that my Beloved is mine and I am His is true, the anticipation to be with Him is real!
The future reality of meeting Him face to face
The new heavens and earth will come, joy meeting Him is real…as expressed in Revelation 21:1-5…
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new 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, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men and He will live 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.’
He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new! Then He said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’”
It will be worth it all when we see Jesus
Life’s trials will seem so small
When we see Christ…
Do we believe the above? Will we sell all in order to be with Him? He must have all or nothing!
The New Testament says that no one has seen or heard what God has prepared for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose! How we receive His promises depends on how we respond to His word. Will we live joyfully by faith in Him or live in fear and restlessness in the 21st century? The choice is ours each moment and each day.