One of the elders asked me, “Do you know who these people are that are dressed in white robes? Do you know where they come from?”
“Sir,” I answered, “you must know.”
Then he told me:
“These are the ones
who have gone through
the great suffering.
They have washed their robes
in the blood of the Lamb
and have made them white.
And so they stand
before the throne of God
and worship him in his temple
day and night.
The one who sits on the throne
will spread his tent
They will never hunger
or thirst again,
and they won’t be troubled
by the sun
or any scorching heat.
The Lamb in the center
of the throne
will be their shepherd.
He will lead them to streams
of life-giving water,
and God will wipe all tears
from their eyes.” (Contemporary English Version)
Suffering Before Glory
There is a day coming when followers of Jesus will come before the throne of God, serving the Lord day and night. And he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. It will be a glorious time of unending peace, harmony, and rest.
But first, before this permanent Sabbath rest, there will be trouble, hardship, trial, and even martyrdom. There will be suffering before glory. Sometimes the difficult circumstances of life seem to have no end. Yet, they will eventually pass, and we must continually keep this in mind. There is a day coming when God’s pastoral presence will forever guard and keep our lives if we endure to the end.
Running Before Finishing
Perseverance, endurance, and pushing through hard situations are necessary to realizing the finish line. We cannot just sit here on earth in some sort of holding pattern waiting for the end. Just as an athlete must go into strict training to run the race well, finish strong, and cross the line, so we as Christians are to be in training. Believers possess at their disposal an array of spiritual practices that will fortify their souls to keep going and finish the race.
The book of Revelation was a vision of the Apostle John given to suffering Christians in grinding hardship. Those ancient followers of Jesus had a great need of patience and perseverance. God graciously gave the believers a glimpse of the glorious ending to come. It was one way of helping them endure their present adversity and live for Jesus Christ.
Indeed, it is future hope which gives shape to the Christian’s life in the immediate here and now. Hope is what sustains us and helps us move through the difficulties of our current existence. Knowing there is a time coming when our tears will be personally wiped away by a loving God enables us to endure our griefs and sorrows.
Partial Before Total
God is with us. What we must continually keep in mind is that our salvation is assured – yet will not come in its fullness until the end of the age. So, we read Scripture portions like Psalm 91 with the understanding that ultimate safety and security is not found in this life but in the life to come…
Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
he is my God, and I trust him.
For he will rescue you from every trap
and protect you from deadly disease.
He will cover you with his feathers.
He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
nor the arrow that flies in the day.
Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
Though a thousand fall at your side,
though ten thousand are dying around you,
these evils will not touch you.
Just open your eyes,
and see how the wicked are punished.
If you make the Lord your refuge,
if you make the Most High your shelter,
no evil will conquer you;
no plague will come near your home.
For he will order his angels
to protect you wherever you go.
They will hold you up with their hands
so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
You will trample upon lions and cobras;
you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!
The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.
I will protect those who trust in my name.
When they call on me, I will answer;
I will be with them in trouble.
I will rescue and honor them.
I will reward them with a long life
and give them my salvation.” (New Living Translation)
May God’s peace and hope fill you with inexpressible joy at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Patient God, you tediously work until your plans and purposes are accomplished. As you are slowly bringing your kingdom to the world, strengthen me so that I do not give up. Help me to persevere, living and loving like Jesus, to his glory. Amen.