Hardships and Heaven

I love living an hour from the beach. Benny and I spontaneously decided to use his much-needed afternoon off to take my lab, Wallace, to play in the ocean yesterday afternoon. As we sat enjoying the beauty, I was especially admiring the fluffy white clouds against the beautiful blue sky.

“Honey, today would be a GREAT day for Jesus to come. He’s gonna come on the clouds…I want Him to come right now on those clouds! Come, Lord Jesus!” I exclaimed. And you know what? I surprised myself by how much I really meant it.

On the way home we talked about how our view of heaven has changed over the years. We reminisced about going to a meeting when we were dating and hearing a message on the return of Christ. While there were aspects of that thought that intrigued me at 17, I remember thinking I didn’t want Jesus to come back at least until we were married and had a few kids…

When was my longing for heaven born?

I don’t remember but it grew slowly. It had something to do with going through hard times. Years of infertility that made we wonder if I would ever have those children I wanted Jesus to wait on. Attending the funerals of my 27-year-old brother, too-young daddy and cherished grandmother in an 18-month period when I was in my mid 20’s. Leaving northern Virginia, and my beloved church and extended family, in my mid-40’s to move to Orlando…only to unexpectedly lose my mom to cancer less than two weeks later. Walking through devastating heartbreaks with dear friends overs over the past 10 years: adultery, heart attack, teens walking away from God, repeated job losses, horrific abuse, cancer, hopeless marital strife, infertility, bankruptcy.

Charles Spurgeon said, “The bitter cups of earth will give a relish to the new wine that sparkles in the golden bowls of heaven.”

Our struggles, pain, loss, grief, sin, disappointment and brokenness here remind us of something really important: there is a place where none of these will happen. No death. No sin. No heartache. No sickness. No grief. No goodbyes. No worry.

And it’s not just about what won’t be, but also what will be!  Worship without getting tired or distracted. Health. Reunions. Uninterrupted joy. Relationships with no anger, bitterness or impatience. Contentment. Peace. Finding it easy to love and serve and think of others before ourselves. Nothing to fret about or lose sleep over.

Forever and ever.

I’m hurting today. I’m scared for a friend who is very sick; longing for another friend’s husband to hear about a much-needed job (closeby, Lord?); missing family members who live far away; and praying for reconciliation between some people I love dearly who can’t seem to get along.

“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (1 Pet 4:17).

It doesn’t feel light. Or momentary.

Are you hurting, too?  Let’s pray for faith to rise in our hearts to eagerly and expectantly (not morbidly or with self-pity) anticipate the clouds that WILL usher Him in.  Whether we’re on this side or the other, what a day that will be. Wow. It has helped me to write this.

Come, Lord Jesus! I’m eager to taste some of that new wine.