Read: Ecclesiastes 3:1-8; John 14:1-4
As I typed the scripture reference from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, I could hear the Byrds singing in my head. No, not the lovely ones who sing so sweetly in the springtime; rather the 60s group who sang that there is a time for everything under heaven in their song "Turn! Turn! Turn!” (Yes, I am old!) Even so, there is so much truth in the first 8 verses of Ecclesiastes 3 concerning the changes as well as the ups and downs that are a part of life in the here and now.
I was once again reminded of that this week. We have heard of several physical, financial and relational struggles this week. It is our honor to pray with these folks as many of them have prayed with us. Times of tears that hopefully will soon hold laughter. Seasons of life that no one truly wants to endure; yet, because our world was broken due to sin's entrance, sadly, circumstances like these cut like shards of glass that get embedded in our hands when we try to clean up a shattered dish. Even though we belong to Jesus, at times, we grieve and ache. Even though praise God that He has overcome the world, John 16:33, we are sometimes troubled and confounded. Nevertheless, God often brings soothing comfort into the hurting places. Glimpses of His beauty that pop like colorful fireworks in the darkness. More about that later.
In John 14:1-4, we learn that we are not alone when our hearts are troubled because Jesus' men experienced our same feelings. Let's look back at how Jesus helped them and hopefully, we too will be encouraged by the Master's words. It is no surprise as John 14 begins that the disciples are downhearted. Jesus had told them that they would all desert Him. They had learned that Peter would deny Him. The One Whom they loved and had come to rely upon for more than three years was going away. Talk about discouraging words. Jesus didn't sugar coat what the disciples were facing. Instead, they were told to set their hearts at ease. How could they possibly do that? Jesus had the remedy, and He held it out to them. They already trusted God the Father. They were to also trust Jesus. We might say that Jesus was telling them to focus on Him. The One Who is trustworthy. Though things would be different, they were to trust in both Jesus and the Father.
Jesus went on to give His men great encouragement. He was leaving, but He was doing so in order to prepare a place for them in the Father's house where there are multiple dwelling places. Not only was He going back to the Father for that purpose, Jesus promised that He would also return and that His disciples would be with Him forever. The idea of the Father's house was a concept the disciples would have understood. When a man was betrothed to a woman, the months between the betrothal and wedding were spent getting the bridal home ready. This was done by adding on to the Father's house, and only when the Father knew all was in readiness did the groom come for his waiting bride. What was being said was that the place for the bride was prepared, and it was time for her to come into the prepared home. Imagine the bride's anticipation. Her groom would come at the right time. Jesus wanted His men to know that He had such a place for them. A place where they would never again be separated from Him, and that is the same comfort the Savior has for each of His children too. The Lord has a place prepared for each of us who belong to Him, John 1:11-12. Back to times when Jesus takes the sweet truth of His word and brings a glimpse of beauty into difficult circumstances. These sweet glimpses of truth are like bubbling cold water in places of drought.
We have been praying for a man who has undergone extensive heart surgery with its myriads of ups and downs. As with so many medical difficulties, it has felt like a roller coaster ride for him and his loved ones, and there has been much spiritual warfare. Yet, one thing he wrote in a note truly encouraged me. He spoke of the joy of going home from the hospital and driving into the driveway of his home. Being home. A precious thing for him. Anyone who has dealt with the kind of battle he has experienced knows the sweetness of home. Being back in a place of comfort and love.
What a glimpse of God's beauty. The joy of seeing that prepared promised home that Jesus spoke about in John 14. He has prepared a home for His children. No, I don't know all that entails, but if Jesus is the One Who has prepared it for us, how wondrous it will be. Since the Savior will be there to welcome us and remain with us, words can't begin to express the wonder and joy we will experience. A home held out to us. Prepared by the One Who knows us best.
I need to stop here to say that someone might read this who has never had a welcoming home. Perhaps no one ever prepared anything special for you or cared if you were there or not. Perhaps the concept of home feels like that picture where shards of glass continue to cut and injure you because of the brokenness you have experienced. I am so sorry if that is the case. Jesus' tears and compassion show us that God's heart is saddened by your pain, and He wants to comfort you. The loving home that you might have imagined or longed for is waiting for you if you will also trust in the Father and trust also in Jesus the God/Man. He died in your place and wants you to have His total forgiveness. He is the Door to the Father's house, John 10:7-10, and He is the one and only door Who offers abundant life, John 10:10.
Lord, Thank You for Your glimpses of beauty. Help us see them when You hold them out right before our eyes. Thank You that these little glimpses will someday be the norm because You will live among us, Revelation 21:1-7.