The Bible does an amazing job at balancing the human experience with a divine dosage of reality. Perhaps one of the easiest ways to bring harm to the cause of Christ is for us to upset this balance by a one-eyed reading of Scripture. Let me explain: God’s word is constantly revealing both the negative and the positive about our natures and our life experiences. It speaks to you of your sin and guilt – many choose to close an eye to this. The bible also speaks powerfully to God’s grace and mercy – others seem reluctant to affirm this, so they place an unnecessary patch over the lens of their positive outlook during life’s challenges. We read in scripture of both Heaven and Hell. There is judgment and pardon, sickness and healing, hurt and happiness, fury and favor… the balance is revealed everywhere. Somewhere in the midst of all of that is you and your Maker. He endeavors to enter into your experience so that you might receive the glorious relief from what is wrong in you and your world, and then worship Him for His sovereign intrusion. His intent is to permanently deliver you to another realm which the Bible does not even attempt to fully describe. Many words are used to characterize this future realm; many call it Heaven but I prefer the word Glory.
“For He delivers the needy when he calls, the poor and him who has no helper.” – Psalm 72:12
The Psalmist just tells us a little about what we might expect while living below. Though the redeemed of the Lord should confess the reality that we are victorious, overcoming and made to triumph in Jesus Christ, we cannot cover our other eye which clearly sees that we are also susceptible to being needy, crying out, poor and without any available human help. One end of this spectrum of human experience does not force the other out of existence. We are always living in a tension and, with both eyes wide open, we embrace both the grit and the grace of life.
Which component of this life-tension has your focus these days? Has the fact that you are forgiven, saved and justified before God allowed you to be shocked or even appalled when difficulty finds you, as if we are supposed to be immune to these types of challenges? Has a sense of entitlement crept into your heart to stay for a while? Many followers of the Lord stumble mightily when their salvation does not remove the reducing reality of an ongoing battle for victory. I remember learning some years ago the truth that there is no such thing as a victory unless there is an opponent, no possibility for overcoming until there is a prior under-going. The experience of your triumph always follows the demanding season of your toil. How many times have I covered one of my discerning eyes and lost sight of the reality that my present struggle is a necessary precursor to my future strength? You and I have to live life with both eyes open as we read the truth of God’s book, and embrace the reality that the people of God on its pages were not quaint, frail, dainty or sheltered. Those bible folks – they were some bloody-knuckled battlers.
Ruth buried a young husband and left her homeland with no promises of a bright tomorrow. God’s providence would provide her a new husband and place her in the genealogy of Jesus Christ.
Jeremiah was a prophet to people who had no interest in his message from God. He was beaten, imprisoned and rejected by his people. There is no record of a single person turning to God while Jeremiah ministered.
Esther was forced into a pagan king’s harem after losing both parents in a bloody conquest by her people’s enemy. She would later become the chosen queen and deliver her people from holocaust.
Elijah was another preacher who dedicated his life to the Lord. He went from stability to poverty during a famine and had to live in a small room of a house belonging to a Gentile widow who had next to nothing. He would be later revered as Israel’s great prophet.
Mary was a teenage virgin, engaged to a man named Joseph. It was determined by God that she would receive a supernatural conception which, eventually, marred her testimony as a loose woman who slept around before marriage. She gave birth to a baby boy, named him Jesus and watched him grow into manhood. She saw him rejected and ridiculed for 3 years before her son was eventually crucified as a traitor and blasphemer at the age of 33. The bible opens both of our eyes when it says that Mary was the most blessed among women while also saying that a sword of sorrow pierced her her heart.
Paul was the greatest missionary who ever lived. His earthly reward included slander, imprisonment, beatings, rejection, muggings, ridicule, weakness, peril, constant misrepresentation and eventual martyrdom. Paul was blessed to write the majority of our New Testament before entering into glory.
I could give many more examples but I would encourage you to take an inventory of your own life and ponder its significance. I already know that, in your life, there has been good and bad, pain and joy, relief and regret. Some people have been very good to you while others have intended your harm more than once. My question is this: do you or do you not have the guarantee from God of an eventual and comprehensive deliverance? Are you going to escape it one day? You see, when the worst hung over your head in judgement and guilt, Christ stepped forward and took it upon Himself that you could go free. In the end, freedom and victory are inescapable realities for those who are in Jesus Christ. There is a moment coming when the very real pains of today and yesterday will proceed no further. The hurt will be forced to leave off. You will go forward but the intermittent agonies of life down here will be shut down once and for all. That promise alone is what motivates you and me to continue on with confidence. You will endure. You are made by Jesus Christ to persevere. There is no sense in you closing your one eye to the painful realities of this life. But don’t you dare close down the other eye to the promises of God which cannot fail you. Those promises are real and must come to pass in your life. You, my friend, have legitimate hope.
Look at both the pains and the promises and lift your hands heavenward. Call out to God like the Psalmist did in his simplicity in the verse above. Then… you must wait on Him. We all wait on God while we are here. We wait with both eyes open, looking to those heavenly realms from where our help both comes today and will come again on a great day in the future. He has a plan and when you see it with two new eyes in glory you will wonder why you ever entertained a moment’s doubt.