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Wipe Every Tear

by David Johnson

DavidJohnson(Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program)

It is good to be together again as we look into the Word of God. What do you suppose, according to most people, is the greatest blocker to faith today? Well, according to one national scientific survey, the answer given was: All the pain and suffering in the world. That is, the number one obstacle to faith in God is: If God is all powerful—and he is—why doesn’t God stop all of the needless suffering and pain and personal tragedies like babies dying?

Have you ever been to a children’s ward in a hospital and seen, for example, children afflicted with cancer, children with no hair, bald, weak, pale from cancer treatments of chemo or radiation? Why doesn’t God do something about this? Doesn’t God care? These are tough issues and tough questions.

An Agnostic person who believes that you cannot know if there is a God, an Agnostic has written—and I quote: “We live in a world where a child dies every five seconds of starvation. Every minute 25 people die because they don’t have clean water to drink. Where is God in all of this?” end of quote.

As Christians, as people of faith in God, we need to be prepared to give an answer. As suffering human beings ourselves in a world of pain, we need to be prepared ourselves to persevere in the faith, to persevere in our God. How do we respond? How do we understand this?
Well, first we must confess for most of us, especially those who have or will suffer terribly and deeply with the overwhelming emotion of a deep hurt, that it will not totally be healed or satisfied with human logic, certainly not in this life. Nevertheless, in Scripture there is some light, some understanding from God concerning all the pain and suffering and tragedy in this life.

First we need to stand back and look at the big picture. In the beginning, according to Genesis chapter one and verse 31, God saw all that he had made and it was very good. You see, originally all was paradise, perfection, no pain, no suffering, no sorrow. But something changed all of that. Sin. Listen to the text in Genesis chapter three beginning in verse 17 through verse 19, because of sin.

To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the treat about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you. Through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken. For dust you are and to dust you will return.”

Consider the terrible consequences of one act of disobedience to an absolutely holy God. For example, the ground, that is the natural world, was cursed, fallen. And it is still running down. And the imagery here is of thorns and thistles or weeds.
And then there is painful toil, hard work. We went from the paradise to the pit with sweat, stress and strain.   Man was made from dust and will go back to dust, because death entered the world.

So pain and suffering are products of sin. Billions of people everywhere today suffer much pain and travail. So why did God give Adam and Eve one prohibition, one you must not? Why? It was God’s test to prove, to verify their faithfulness, their obedience, their love. God gave choice. We are not just programmed beings. We are not robots. But didn’t God know that they would fail, that sin would ruin everything? Well, of course God knew. So why?

A Christian scholar answers this very succinctly and I quote. “It is all about free will given to mankind. Why didn’t God create a perfect world without human freedom of choice? Because that would have been a planet without choice. It would have been a world without suffering and without pain and without hate, but also a world without proven, verifiable love, which is the highest value in the universe. The highest good never could have been experienced genuinely without human choice. Genuine love of God and of each other must involve choice, free will. But granting that choice comes with the possibilities of hate, of suffering and pain,” end quote. So why does just one act of disobedience, sin, have to bring so much pain and suffering? Well, the short answer is in Habakkuk chapter one verse 13 regarding the character of God. Your eyes are too pure to look on evil. You cannot tolerate wrong. That is, to God even one evil is an abomination to an absolutely 100 percent holy, holy, holy God. As sinful humans, we cannot fully comprehend God’s absolute holiness. Well, why is this? Because we are all sinners, unholy, imperfect, self centered, not God centered. But that was Adam and Eve, not me. However, Romans chapter three and verse 23 says: All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. We know we are imperfect morally, imperfect ethically. We are all guilty. Therefore, we all experience pain and suffering and death. And, of course, it is not just one sin, because one sin always leads to multiple sins, more sin, many sins, a sin nature, a sinful life. And we all continue to fall short.

And God ceases to be the holy one if he excuses, tolerates sin of any number to any degree whatsoever. And God’s character, his divine attributes never change. And that certainly includes his holiness.

Now still in the big picture consider eternity future found in Revelation chapter 21 and verses three and four for believers. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men and he will live with them and 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.”
Notice in verse three says now the dwelling of God is with men and he will live with them and they will be his people, because God is holy and he cannot abide sin or sinners. All then in his presence with God are all saints sanctified, made holy and that only by the blood and the body of Christ on the cross and our obedient faith in him. Then, of course, we will have all been changed for eternity, glorified, perfected.

In Revelation chapter 21 and verse four: 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. And so that means it is forever for believers.

So what is the point?   The big picture answer is: The human race began in perfect paradise. The human race in Christ and by his blood will go into eternity and will regain perfect paradise. But we are all still in the messed up middle of two perfect paradises. It is paradise then, a poison time due to our sin, but then paradise regained for believers in Christ. And it is only by God’s grace and Christ’s blood through faith that any of us even have a chance at paradise again, because none of us deserve it. Yet according to Scripture not everything about suffering is negative. Really?

Consider, for example, Romans chapter five and verses three and four. We know suffering produces perseverance, perseverance character and character hope. And so perseverance, character and hope can be potentially the byproducts of suffering. Yes, even suffering, because suffering need not be empty, without meaning or without spiritual growth. Suffering can produce stronger Christian inner stamina and faithfulness. Sufferings and pain also, for example, can bring about genuine repentance and faith in Christ. For example, Saul the persecutor became Paul the planter of churches.

  1. S. Lewis wrote these words. Quote, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts to us in our pain. It is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world,” end quote.

Skeptics and critics continue to claim: How can God bear, be blind to the ever present sickness and suffering and death of multiplied millions and even billions and still claim to love us? The short answer is John 3:16. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son. Whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

God cared and God cares today. And he proved it by his one and only unique giving of his Son. Would we do that? Are we despised? Christ was despised for us. Do we cry out? Christ cried out for us. Are we broken? Christ was broken for us, for you and me on the cross.

Corrie Ten Boom who was a Christian that suffered terrible pain in a Nazi concentration camp wrote these words, and I quote: “No matter how deep our darkness, his was deeper still. He not only rose from the dead, he changed the meaning of death. Therefore, all of our little deaths and sufferings that anticipate death, we can bear, every tear shed becomes his tears. He may not wipe them away yet, but he will,” end of quote.

And we have his word on it. But we must persevere in Christ. In 2 Corinthians chapter five and verse 21 we find these words: God made him who had no sin to be sin for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. And, therefore, through sincere, overcoming faith in Christ we become righteous, clothed with Christ’s righteousness, transferred, credited to us. We get out of the messy middle and go to perfect paradise in eternity future when God will wipe every tear away forever. But that is only possible in Christ Jesus.

A final testimony which I read about, a heart breaking personal tragedy of a Christian in a world of pain and suffering, because, yes, we are in the middle yet. We are in the mess now, in between two perfect paradises.

Mark was working near a driveway. His wife said she was going to move the car and so to watch their young daughter. As the car backed up suddenly, the toddler moved toward the car and was crushed. So very deep was Mark’s despair that he asked God to help him to breathe, to help him to eat, to help him to function. He was paralyzed with guilt and overwhelming emotional pain. But ever so slowly he began to heal and increasingly felt God’s presence. Having experienced God at the point of his greatest need, he eventually emerged a changed person. Yes, even through his deep suffering and pain, though he had never, ever have chosen it, horrible and life shattering as it was, Mark was transformed from the inside out into a much more sensitive and compassionate person and able to comfort others with the comfort that God had given to him in his deepest need.

We all live in a broken and troubled world. During the time to share this lesson probably thousands, tens of thousands, even millions across the world, billions are suffering unbearable pain and tragedy, but you and I as Christians need to remember the big picture when God eventually will wipe away every tear.   And we need to share this with others. Jesus himself expressed, he revealed to us, to all of us the terrible tragedy that can be in this life.

In the gospel of John chapter 16 and verse 33 it says there in part: In me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart. I have overcome the world.

Notice the contrast, the comparison. In me, peace. In the world, trouble. This fallen world will mess us up terribly, but with the help of the Holy Spirit, in our striving and struggling, we can shift our focus from our crisis to Christ. We can go from the pit to the person of Jesus and that can eventually bring us to peace.   But we must trust, rely on, lean on and have faith, because in me, Jesus said, you may have peace. But we must be in him first.

Are you in Christ Jesus? Have you received him by faith?

 

David Johnson is minister of the Sellersburg Church of Christ, Sellersburg, IN.




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I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:13