After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.”
The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
1 Thessalonians 4:13–18:
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.
For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.
And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life. 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.
When I was a child, it seemed like time used to go by SO SLOWLY. Something that was a week away, or a month, or a year just seemed to be so far away. (Except the end of summer, of course. That always came much more quickly than expected.) It seemed like I would never be out of school, never be grown up, etc. Of course, now that my childhood is far behind me, time seems to go by far more quickly. “Long days, short years” is a phrase one of my friends likes to use. But still, it’s hard to conceive of eternity, and it’s even harder to look at things in our lives from that perspective, isn’t it? As (seemingly) earthbound humans, it is hard to put our day-to-day, year-to-year, or decade-to-decade trials into perspective. We are naturally impatient, but we are also just naturally short-sighted.
The scriptures are sensitive to our short-sightedness, of course. And they encourage us in so many ways to re-align our perspective to that of our creator. They remind us that God is our true reward and inheritance. They praise those who “died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.” (Hebrews 11:13) They spell out that our hope (and our home!) is in the New Jerusalem. Re-read some of the passages above, and see the encouraging promises in them!
One of my favorite sentences from our directory of worship is uttered whenever we receive new members. After the member has made their confession, the pastor encourages them, “May the God of all grace, who called you unto his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, perfect, establish, and strengthen you.” That encouragement is taken directly from 1 Peter 5:10, as the apostle encourages the people of Christ to be humble, resist the devil, and trust in the might and goodness of our God. No matter how long we may suffer in this life, and some of us may very well live whole lifetimes marked with suffering, it is just “a little while” - as nothing, almost - compared to our hope of eternal fellowship with our creator and with the Bride of Christ.
Be encouraged, brothers and sisters! It will not be long at all before our great hope is realized, and the trials of this life have faded into distant memory.
—Elder Robb Leatherwood