I wrote this during the summer, but thought about the article again tonight as my excitement for Heaven was reignited at InterVarsity…
My mother and grandfather sit at the kitchen table, passionately discussing current events. I find myself feeling depressed and discouraged as I hear them talking about corruption within the government, the selfish state of America’s youth, and the media’s filth. My heart is saddened as I remember once again how desperate and broken our world is.
We live in a time where evil pervades society. The headlines from the news could cause any toughened heart to shudder. “U.S. Evacuates Embassy in Tripoli.” “Deadly Start to Chicago Weekend.” “U.S. ‘Lies’ Flame Ukrainian Turmoil.” “World Leaders Try to Quell Gaza Violence.”
All around us the world is falling apart.
Where is our hope? As my mother remarked this morning, “Jesus has to be coming back.” Whether He is coming back tomorrow, or in 10 years, or in 1000 years, the truth remains: Jesus IS coming back. That is the hope I cling to.
In the days leading up to His death, Jesus warned His disciples about the difficulties ahead for them. He drew the metaphor of a woman in labor, who instantly forgets the pain as soon as her child is born. And Jesus encourages them saying, “So you also have sorrow now. But I will see you again. Your hearts will rejoice, and no one will rob you of your joy,” (John 16:22).
The imagery is true for us believers today, as we await Jesus’ second coming. Our hearts are filled with sorrow now. We live in anticipation of a world crisis. Christians are being persecuted all over the world. Churches are being burned. Believers are being murdered. Within the United States, Christians are being called intolerant for standing upon Biblical beliefs. BUT our sorrow will turn to joy someday. When Jesus returns, the pain we felt in this life will be only a memory. The heartbrokenness we feel right now will be only a shadow in Heaven.
Christian artist, Phil Wickham, shares the hope we have in Jesus’ resurrection in his worship song, “You’re Beautiful.” He sings…
When we arrive on Eternity’s shore / Where death is just a memory / And tears are no more / We’ll enter in as the wedding bells ring / You’re bride will come together / And we’ll sing, You’re beautiful…”
As believers in Jesus Christ, our hope is firmly planted in Jesus’ Resurrection. His Resurrection from the grave and His ascent into Heaven gives us the hope that He is coming back again. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:19, “If we have placed our hope in Christ for this life only, we should be pitied more than anyone.” But as Phil Wickham sings, we have placed our hope in Christ for Eternity.
Further on in that same chapter, Paul shares why he has hope for the future…
Death has been swallowed up in victory. Oh Death, where is your victory? Oh Death, where is your sting? Now the sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!” (1 Corinthians 15:54b-57).
Note that exclamation point in the last sentence. Exclamation points aren’t used a lot in the Bible, but as I read that passage, I can just hear the excitement in Paul’s voice. I can see him getting tense with anticipation as he writes those words to the Corinthians, praying that they would understand the joy and peace they can have through Jesus’ victory. That exclamation point marks Paul’s hope. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines hope as “to expect with confidence.” Paul has confidence in the words that he is writing. Jesus has overcome.
I eagerly wait for the day when Jesus’ comes back to Earth. I believe that there is a Heaven and I am so excited. Yet as for this moment, I am still here on Earth, sitting in front of my computer screen, faced with the troubles of the world. How do we live in the waiting? I believe that the word “wait” is an action verb. And so, I don’t believe that hoping for Jesus’ return means resigning to the evil and waiting for Judgment Day. Awaiting Heaven does not call for being passive.
I have a lot of favorite verses, but 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 has consistently been a passage that encourages me, and its words contain the secret to living in light of Eternity.
Therefore we do not give up; even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen; for what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
Set your eyes on Jesus, dear friends. Focus on the eternal. Even though you may not be able to see the good, keep searching. Do not give up. While we are waiting, Jesus has not left us. In the raised hands of a child wanting to follow Jesus, I see Him still working in hearts. In the hands of a Ugandan mother holding her child that an American sponsor’s money helped to save, I see His goodness is still changing lives. In the hands stretched out across an online community to grasp the hands of other sisters in Christ, I see a glimpse of Eternity.
This is why I have learned to laugh at the future. This is why you too can laugh at the future. We have hope.
When I see the headlines now, I remember that evil’s reign is temporary. I pray that Jesus would come quickly and bring an end to the suffering. But I have peace knowing that He is in control, and in His good timing, the world will be put to right.
Laugh, because in the end, good will prevail.
Laugh, because Jesus has already overcome the world.
– – Phebe
Photos featuring my beautiful friend, Brianna; taken by Ellie.