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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

No More Suffering and Tears

In Colorado, my home state, weather is ideal most of the time, but unpredictable all of the time. Blue, sunny skies can turn ominous in late afternoon. Temperatures can plummet from warm to frigid faster than you can sing “Rocky Mountain High.” Suddenly, strong winds sweep down from the mountains bringing cold rain or hail or even snow. A March day may drag an upslope condition to our Front-Range cities, wrapping them in drizzle and fog. But Colorodans don’t despair. They can handle a dreary day or two, because they know they will wake up tomorrow to dazzling sunshine and deep- blue skies.

What keeps us Christians optimistic when clouds of trouble and pain burst upon us? when days seem dreary and long? The answer is, we know trouble and pain will end someday. Our pilgrimage will be over; faith will give way to sight; we will enter our heavenly home; and we will see Jesus face to face.

Not long ago I talked with a Christian who was dying of liver cancer. She knew she had only a few days to live. “It’s rough,” she said. “There are a lot of thorns, but the roses are waiting up ahead.”
In just a few words she summarized what every Christian knows to be true: trouble and tears befall us down here, but peace and joy await us in heaven.

Jesus’ disciples were hurting. They had seen Judas slip out into the night to betray Jesus to His enemies, and Jesus had told His disciples He would not be with them much longer (John 13:21-30, 33). But Jesus did not want them to grieve. He urged them not to grieve but to trust in the Father and in Him. He explained that His Father’s house includes many dwellings and He was going there to prepare a place for them. Furthermore, He promised to return for them and take them to the Father’s house. There, they would be together forever (see John 14:1-3).

In the summer of 1999 my wife and I made five weekend trips to Eagle, Colorado, a town that enjoys a valley-view of mountains, redstone cliffs, and a clear, winding river. From Vail to Avon to Copper Mountain to Edwards to Eagle, we passed multi-million-dollar homes built high on the mountains. Impressive! Elaborate! Fantastic! Grand! Luxurious! Awesome! Magnificent! Words fail to adequately describe such structures. But I must add one more adjective to the list—temporary!

Temporary, because many of the owners live in them only a few weeks each year. They are second homes, retreats for celebrities and wealthy business tycoons, getaways for those who want to kick back, drink in the climate and scenery, golf, fish, hike, and four-wheel.

Temporary because even the best constructed house will crumble and tumble someday.

At Eagle I preached each weekend to people who do not live in any of the multi-million dollar houses perched on the mountaintops. As far as I could tell, the people I preached to are like most Christians. They are challenged just to pay the mortgage on a modest house, clothe and educate the kids, put food on the table, and keep the car in running condition. But each of those Christians along with every other Christian holds a title deed to a far better house than those owned by millionaires. Because Jesus, the Carpenter of Nazareth is building it, it, too, is impressive, elaborate, fantastic, grand, luxurious, awesome, and magnificent! But it is even better than all that; it is eternal! Unlike the mountain mansions, Christians’ mansions will never crumble and tumble.

One glimpse of the Builder of our heavenly home and one quick tour of the premises will chase away forever every remembrance of the trouble and tears we experienced on earth.

—From How to Handle Life's Hurts by James Dyet. © 2004, Regular Baptist Press, Schaumburg, Illinois

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