WORTH THE WAIT 12-1-19
Worth the Wait
December 1, 2019
Most of you know that my husband, Ed, is a roller coaster aficionado. To be more specific, a wooden roller coaster aficionado. He will travel hundreds of miles to ride one he hasn’t yet ridden, or to ride an old favorite. Once he gets to his destination, he will often have to park a mile from the entrance to the park, stand in line to enter the park, and then stand in line again, sometimes for hours, to board the ride. Not mention the cost of the travel, with gas and hotel, plus the cost of the park entry and/or ride ticket. Is it worth it for a ride that lasts less than 3 minutes? For him it definitely is.
We all have things we wait and plan for, often making sacrifices in the hope that they will pay off in the long run. We sit up long nights studying in hopes of a future career. Then we work at that career and carefully plan our finances in hopes of a comfortable retirement. We plan a family and raise children in hopes that they will have a good life. But sometimes are hopes are shattered. We have to drop out of school, we lose our job, a child dies. Events that are beyond our control often cause us to change our plans and redefine our hopes.
When the bottom drops out, we sometimes wonder where God is. How could He let this happen? Why didn’t He intercede? There was time that even Jesus had that thought. From the cross He cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34). But there was a reason. It was in that moment that our sins were heaped on Jesus’ shoulders and He because the perfect sacrifice atoning for them all at once – all the sins of mankind, past, present, and future. Yours. Mine. It was the reason Jesus left his home in heaven and came to earth to be born as a lowly baby in the manger in Bethlehem. It was his love for us, his desire to save us from this sin-infested world and give us hope, that led him to willfully be nailed to that cross and suffer agony which no mere human could possibly bear. For He had committed no sin, but in that moment felt the anguish, the guilt, the weight of the sins of billions upon billions of people heaped upon him. And even worse, because he was now the embodiment of those sins, at that moment Jesus temporarily was separated from the fellowship He had experienced with his Father throughout eternity. It was during that dark time that Jesus cried out in great agony as He experienced – for the first time in all eternity – this broken fellowship. Of course it was restored once the sacrifice was complete and the price for our sins was paid. Jesus rose from the dead three days later, and now reigns at the right hand of the Father for all eternity.
We also suffer trials in this life, at times not understanding why it seems as though God has forsaken us. While we will never have to endure as much agony as Jesus did on that cross, some of us have, or will, go through terrible times, suffering pain, loss, grief, and anxiety. There will be times when it seems like those who are faithful to Christ suffer more than the unbelieving, more even than those who are downright evil. King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, pondered this as well when he wrote, “I have seen everything during my lifetime of futility; there is a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness and there is a wicked man who prolongs his life in his wickedness.” (Ecclesiastes 7:15). But then in the very next chapter he wrote, “Although a wicked person who commits a hundred crimes may live a long time, I know that it will go better with those who fear God, who are reverent before him.” (8:12). Even a life free from the problems and trials that beset most of us, a life full of prosperity, easy living, and everything a person could possibly desire, if lived without Christ, is nothing compared to the life of a Christian, no matter how poor and destitute. For we have something that an unbeliever does not have. We have hope. All the unbeliever can hope for when his life on this earth is done is an eternity of suffering, of wandering hopelessly in the outer darkness, where no one will have compassion on him. He will not have his material possessions any longer. He will not have any friends. He will not have a purpose, a reason to exist, and yet he will exist in that awful state forever. He will curse the day he was born and the days he wasted on this earth. And he will curse those who didn’t warn him, and wish he could somehow warn those he left behind. (Read Luke 16:19-31).
But we have hope. We have hope because Jesus died on the cross to give us the promise of eternal life in heaven with him, if we but accept his sacrifice as the payment for our sins. Of course that means first admitting that we are indeed sinners, deserving the punishment he took upon himself for us. And repenting of those sins, which means we want the Holy Spirit to empower us to overcome our flesh and cease to sin, and instead live by the law of love – putting God first, others second, and ourselves last. It means we are willing to suffer for Christ in this life, if that is His will, knowing that 50, 70, or even 100 years here is nothing compared to eternity. Because eternity is forever, and forever is a long, long, time – longer than the human mind can even comprehend. And the love, joy, and peace that we will experience in heaven are also beyond what the human mind can comprehend. They will make very sorrow, every tear, every trial of this life seem like paying a penny for a home worth millions. A home that is definitely worth the wait! Amen.
"All My Hope" (Crowder) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=94KbIGWdKa4
"Hope Was Born This Night" (Sidewalk Prophets) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-LeQonRfSw