True peace comes from focusing on eternity.
(HT: Psalm 39)
Lately, I've tried to be less shrill, angry, and reactive when it comes to current events. There is so much to make me angry, so many perfect things that are mocked and marred by humans. The key, I've found, is viewing life as though eternity were already present. I think maybe this is what parts of passages like Psalm 39 or Colossians 3 or Romans 8 are about: we are hidden away in heaven with Christ already and that knowledge helps us understand current events with greater clarity and certainly with more peace.
Psalm 39:2-4: I was mute and silent; I held my peace to no avail, and my distress grew worse. My heart become hot within me. As I mused, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue: "O LORD, make me know my and and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeing I am!
Colossians 3:3-4,15: For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. ... And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.
Romans 8:31ff: What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? ... Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? SHall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? ... No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
Though this eternal perspective, we see that everything going on is important, it is vital, it is critical, it is life changing. We should care deeply about these things, but nothing that happens is a surprise to God. Nothing puts off God's plans. Nothing can change our eternal destiny. The devil may win all the battles and still lose the war.
We may even feel anxious, stressed, depressed, despairing, be dreadfully ill, and suffering terribly, even be tortured, but this eternal perspective can still transcend even the worst pain and despair. This has been particularly comforting to me lately.
That begs the question: What is eternity? My views were once daunted by a view of the stretch of time stretching away forever. Would it really be an unending church service forever? Honestly, as much as I enjoy a good sermon and worship service, that thought was kind of terrifying. At some point, though, I realized I was still locking my mind into the economy of time. You see, within this universe we can never escape the fact that time is limited. Even if we find a way to give all of humanity infinite resources, perfect health, happiness, and everything else we might want, we still have to contend with time ever marching on. A master artist must always finish his painting. The engineer must always get to the end of the project.
In heaven, that will never be the case. We can start something and end it. Or we can start something, work on it for centuries, quit for millenia, and come back to it to make it better. Humans were made for work. I believe we will have work, meaningful and rewarding work, in heaven and we can look back on all we have accomplished for our God there and see that it is good. We have time to get to know every person who populates heaven nad be intimate friends with everyone we meet and still have plenty of time to focus on worshipping God constantly. His present will be so powerful, we won't be able to enter a room where his presence isn't lighting it. There will be no shame or sin to hid so we will never mind or be afraid of his ever present glory.
"Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever." (Revelation 22:1-5)
This vision of eternity and God's glory has made it so I feel no need to be shrill or despair when my worldview suffers a setback in this valley of the shadow of death. I can assert my opinions, but I don't feel the same desparation to have people agree or for events to move in a direction that favors Christianity. That time will come and at that time, every knee shall bow to the King of kings and now the Truth of his headship and Godhead.
Copyright © 2016 Sterling Hanenkamp.