Our Hope in the Future Defines How We Live in the Present
Brittany Threadgill | November 12, 2018
We are bundles of discontentment. Why? Because we are not home yet and we long to be. We long for satisfaction, yet we live in a world that cannot satisfy us. We are thirsty for water that only Jesus can provide; yet we spend so much time looking to other sources to quench our thirst, don’t we? Our thirst is ultimately pointing us to Jesus. That is where we need to go for ultimate satisfaction.
This is easier said than done, isn’t it? Living in the in between and longing for Jesus to return, makes contentment and thankfulness really hard. We are always anticipating, working towards, longing for the next thing. Yet, God commands us over and over again to be thankful where we are:
Psalm 30:4- “Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name.”
Psalm 50:14- “Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High,”
Psalm 95:2- “Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!”
Psalm 136:1- “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.”
Colossians 3:17- “And whatever you do, in word and deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
1 Thessalonians 5:18- “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
So, what do we do with this command that is often so hard to obey? How do we remain thankful when our parents tell us they are getting divorced, when a friend takes their own life, when the cancer diagnosis comes, or when the rejection letter from our dream school is in the day’s mail? For those of us who are in Christ, we can look forward with great hope to the day when Jesus comes back and wipes every tear from our eyes just as he as promised to do. And that can be what drives our thankfulness in a broken world. When Jesus was on this earth, we read many examples in the Bible of him being thankful. His thankfulness was driven by his belief in the future joy that was promised to him from his Father. Jesus’s hope and belief in the future totally defined how he lived in the present. We are called and equipped to do the same. We can look at the future joy that our Heavenly Father has promised us, and that can be the fuel for our thankfulness, regardless of our present circumstances.
What is this future joy that can drive us to thankfulness? We read in the Bible that we are heirs of the Kingdom with Jesus. Therefore, the future that is promised to us is the same future that was promised to him.
God doesn’t promise us a life free from trials and suffering. In fact, he says that following Him willbring trials and suffering. Suffering is a given, however, the Bible tells us that God meets us there. That He gets in our suffering with us and that is how we can stare our suffering in the face and say, “bring it;” even to the point of being able to be thankful in the midst of it. God promises suffering, but he also promises to meet us there, and to use the suffering in our lives for the building of his kingdom. We can trust in his promises, and be thankful for what he is teaching us through our suffering. We can rejoice that he does not leave us alone in our suffering.
Revelation 21 and 22 are two of my favorite chapters in the Bible, as I think they give us a firm foundation for great hope. They are the culmination of the entire Bible and are a powerful picture of what the future holds for those who are in Christ. In the New Heaven and the New Earth, Heaven will come down to us. The Feast of the Lamb that is described in Revelation chapter 19 will take place on this earth, but it will be a new earth. We read in chapter 21:5 that God is making all things new, not all new things. All the things we love about this earth we will continue to love in Heaven. They will just be grander because they will be made new.
In chapter 22, the story comes full circle. It speaks of the tree of life and is meant to remind us of the garden in Genesis. The day we long for is coming. The day when we look Him in the eyes and He wipes away our tears and we are fully satisfied. Jesus is coming back. One day, all brokenness will be healed and the life God intended for us will be given back to us. It is really crazy to think about and difficult to fully grasp that before “In the beginning God created” was ever said, “surely I am coming soon” had already been planned. That alone gives me reason to be thankful!
What we think and believe about the future makes all the difference in how we live in our everyday. Our “living hope” in the future defines how we live in the present. Since I have put my faith in Christ, I can read Revelation 21 and 22 and look forward to the day when the New Heaven and the New Earth is a reality for me, and then live my day-to-day life now out of that great hope. I can rest in a God who made me, who knows me, who knows my every need, and has promised to never leave me. I can rest because He’s in control and therefore I don’t have to be. I can look forward with a great hope and thankfulness that He has promised to make all things new and that one day this earth will be made perfect. There will be no more tears, no more sadness, no more broken relationships, no more divorce, no more death, no more failing physical bodies, no more sin. But, instead there will be a new, real, physical creation and new, real, physical bodies that are free from sin.
Sally Lloyd Jones in her book The Jesus Storybook Bible writes of this future joy in this way:
“One day, John knew, Heaven would come down and mend God’s broken world and make it our true, perfect home once again.
And he knew, in some mysterious way that would be hard to explain, that everything was going to be more wonderful for once having been so sad.
And he knew then that the ending of The Story was going to be so great, it would make all the sadness and tears and everything seem like just a
shadow that is chased away by the morning sun.
“I’m on my way,” said Jesus. “I’ll be there soon!”
John came to the end of his book. But he didn’t write “The End.” Because, of course, that’s how stories finish. (And this one’s not over yet.)
So instead, he wrote, “Come quickly, Jesus!”
Which, perhaps, is really just another way of saying “To be continued...”
In Revelation, it is like John is holding up a mirror. He wants us to see ourselves as we really are, but he also wants us to see Jesus as he really is. Seated on the throne at the right hand of God. The throne is occupied, and it is King Jesus who reigns. Jesus sitting is a visual picture to us that his work is done. The work he came to do has been completed. The verdict in the courtroom is in and we have been found not guilty. Our debt has been canceled. Amen and hallelujah.
Our story is not done; it is to be continued. Our Lord Jesus is coming back soon, and that not only gives me great comfort, but also gives me reason to be thankful today regardless of how my life is looking at the present moment.