As followers of Christ, we live in a place of tension. We experience it every day.
On one hand, we live in a world where there is profound brokenness – a world where sickness, death, hunger, anger, greed, and betrayal confront us every day. There are times when we have each encountered a growing sense of fear and hopelessness as darkness seems to close in around us.
And yet, while we have one foot in this world of sorrow and sadness, we know that, because of Christ, our true citizenship is elsewhere – in a place where, as Tim Keller puts it, “our tears will be dried, our grief turned to joy, our pain nonexistent, not even a memory. It will be a new day, a better day – as it is written, trustworthy and true.”
It reminds me of a significant moment in Tolkien’s “The Return of the King” when, following the final battle, Sam sees Gandalf again and exclaims “Is everything sad going to come untrue?” What a thought that is! Yes, there is something horribly wrong with this world that is so wracked by sin. And yet we have the promise that, one day, all things will be made new. Evil will be defeated. The world will be changed. “Death will be no more; grief, crying, and pain will be no more, because the previous things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4). This is a promise for us to embrace and hold on to!
Sadly, so often we allow ourselves to feel as though we are trapped in the here and now. We can be quick to put our faith in the political systems of this world, in our jobs and retirement planning, in status and position, in our relationships with family and friends. And when our focus is placed elsewhere, we very quickly lose sight of the hope, joy, and peace that can be ours through Jesus.
We must have a different viewpoint – an eternal perspective – and think bigger than our current circumstances. We may still grieve the pain of sin’s destructive impact today, but we can delight in the promise of God’s comfort, mercy, and grace. In the meantime, we must live out our brief and temporary lives in this current world for His glory, looking ahead with expectation, hope and wonder to what is yet to come – a better day when our grief and sadness will be no more. Our tears will be dried.
This posture naturally leads us to worship. In all circumstances, therefore, may we “give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever” (Psalm 118:1).