He will swallow up death forever;

and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,

and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,

for the Lord has spoken.

Isaiah 25: 8

 

This life gives us plenty of reason to cry. We all face suffering and loss on a too regular basis. We also know with the certainty of the ages that our own days are short and are growing continually shorter. As we go through life it seems that God has created in us a paradox. For we are made to live in relationship with others and to seek out and find Godly purpose; yet, the length of our lives and the continuation of our relationships are fragile and often fleeting conditions. Yes, living in this world does give us reason to cry.

 

So, when we do shed those tears, we are not left alone. Christ has suffered the same losses that we are encountering, and He has also endured the pains of death that wrench our hearts and weary our minds. He is neither distant nor disinterested in our personal grief. Instead, Christ steps into our times of pain and grants us peace in the moment and understanding of eternity for tomorrow’s sake. In fact, it is in these darkest and most trying of times that God often seems most real and close at hand. He knows our sorrow, and He comforts our sorrowing.

 

Still, there is more. God has made a commitment to all of His creation. He will set it all right again. There will be a time to come when all that is broken, so all that is dying and death, will be done away with forever. This is the day when evil is destroyed and when this world will be replaced by one that is no longer sickened by the disease of sin. Until that day, all of us who know God will end this life by entering into the presence of Christ where we will live in the perfect peace and joy of our Lord’s unending embrace. Every tear that has ever coursed across our cheeks will be removed and the brokenness of our bodies and our hearts will be no more. For in Christ, there is eternal joy at the end of this journey.

I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge – even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you – so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of the Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of the Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 1: 4-8

 

The journey through this life is not easy. This is a fact regardless of spiritual orientation, faith in any form of god, or status and wealth. The earth is a beautiful but deadly place to reside, and it is not getting any better despite all of our best efforts to clean it up or to straighten it out. There is danger lurking in the water and in the air, and there is treachery and deceit to be found in the hearts of people across its surface. Essentially, every activity that we enter into and each of the relationships that we engage has the real possibility of doing us harm. It seems that life should come with a very large and boldly stated warning label: ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK.

 

Yet, it is also true that we people brought all of this upon ourselves. We took the gift of perfect peace and returned it to its giver with a form of arrogant disdain that told Him that we would prefer something a bit bolder, a little more exciting and a lot more within our control. So, God gave us what we asked for, but the Lord did not leave us alone to suffer the consequences of our demands on our own. Now there is a beast in our forest, a demon in our closet, and God is present in our lives if we choose to allow Him to enter in. That choice is the critical one. It makes all of the difference between life and death.

 

In Christ we are alive. In Christ our lives have meaning and direction. In Christ we still suffer and the brokenness of this world impacts us with all of its fury and senseless brutality. Yet, in Christ, we are never alone, and the painful hours and the grief that our hearts endure work to bring us closer to the only One who both understands it all intimately but also responds to bring us comfort and peace. The harsh air of this world forces Christ’s people to enter into the holy sanctuary of His presence in order to breathe in the pure grace of His love and mercy. Christ’s Spirit gives each of us the gifts that we need to take our personal loss and turn it into gain for God’s Kingdom, and He also provides us with the strength to carry on in that service until our days here are complete.