And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 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 ~ Revelation 21: 2 – 4
Tomorrow, many of us will go to church to praise and worship Our Father. Most churches will have songs for us to sing.
Many of us also will be going with heavy hearts for various reasons: impending divorce, uncertain future, sickness, betrayal, depression, death, brokenness, sadness, recent news headlines which continue to bring tragedy after tragedy (most particularly thinking about Paris and Lebanon at the moment). How can we sing these songs when it seems that the world is falling apart? How can we sing songs about praise when there is so much pain, suffering and tragedy?
When , it can be easy to ask: Where is God in all of this? Well, guess what: He is right here. God was not surprised when my X husband abandoned me. God was not surprised when your life turned upside down.. God was not surprised on 9/11. God was not surprised Friday night during the terror attacks in Paris. He is not surprised. He is here. He is STILL on the throne no matter what.
While in chains in a nasty, dank prison, and abandoned by everyone, the apostle Paul, who was fixing to be beheaded, wrote: “In EVERYTHING give thanks…” If you haven’t read the book of Philippians, I challenge you to read it this week and count the number of times Paul wrote about JOY. Paul’s circumstances were not good, but he praised God anyway because Paul knew that everything in his earthly life was temporary. So, yeah…read through Philippians this week.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote this poem, I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day during the Civil War. His son enlisted in the Union army without Henry’s blessing and was severely wounded and his wife had been killed in a tragic fire several years before, which had sent Henry into the pits of depression:
And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1863
Several thousand years ago, King David wrote about despair after he was being chased by Saul and had to pretend to be insane in front of Abmilek, who drove him away:
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit. ~ Psalm 59:18
Yes, despair and grief will always be a part of life. Bad things happen. BUT, GOD IS HERE. We must cling to that HOPE. Jesus IS our Hope. So, tomorrow we CAN sing.
In a few weeks, we will be singing beautiful carols about a baby who was born. Praise God…we will be able to sing these carols, in spite of life’s tragedies, because this baby was born because this baby brought HOPE to a hopeless society.