Revelation 21 : 3 - 4
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
I love the end of the book of Revelation. The picture of heaven, of God at last setting everything right—it’s so beautiful and it fills my heart with expectation of what it will be like to finally be home with the Lord.
The promise of an end to suffering is especially beautiful. How much more beautiful it must be to someone who has experienced intense suffering—the loss of a child, chronic physical pain, terminal disease, extreme poverty and hunger.
A Good God…?
My heart breaks when I hear someone who is still bleeding from the stab of that kind of suffering hurl it back like an arrow aimed at God’s character. “How could a good and sovereign God allow THIS?”
There are many ways to answer this question. Answers may satisfy the intellectual but do very little to soothe the ache of someone in the throes of this type of hurt. Hurting people don’t really want answers. They might think they do, but answers don’t bring comfort. I suspect this might be why God doesn’t seem to respond to suffering with answers. He responds with something far better—the comfort of His loving presence and the promise of a future hope.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
–Revelation 21 : 3–4 (NIV)
A God Intimately Familiar with Pain
We serve a God who is not immune to suffering. Isaiah 53:3 calls Jesus “a man of sorrows…acquainted with grief.” Jesus endured pain beyond anything we have experienced. He was hated, rejected by His closest friends, painfully murdered, and even felt the deepest pain that we as Christians will never have to feel—rejection by the Father in the moment He bore our sin on the cross. I need to remember this when I am in pain. Oftentimes when a person is suffering, they will only listen to another person who has experienced their suffering personally. Someone who knows what it’s like.
Jesus knows what it’s like.
A Tender Father
I love the picture of God wiping away our tears. I think of it sometimes when I wipe away my daughter’s tears. She’s still very young, so when she cries, it’s usually after a hard fall and bump on the head. Nevertheless, it grieves me to see her hurt, and when I hold her, kiss her boo-boo, and wipe the fat, wet tears from her cheeks, I am sometimes reminded of the tender love of a heavenly Father—infinitely more loving and good than I am as a parent—who promises to one day wipe away every tear and do away with all our pain. Forever.
Heavenly Father, thank You that You are not emotionally removed from our pain. You are no stranger to grief, and you feel the sting of our suffering right along with us. You are sovereign over suffering, promise to use it for our good, and promise to one day set everything right. You are good beyond our understanding, and we can’t wait to be with you forever.