Those Who Suffer



Scripture:

Revelation 7:13-17

Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?” I said to him, “Sir, you are the one that knows.” Then he said to me, “These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
For this reason they are before the throne of God,
and worship him day and night within his temple,
and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them.
They will hunger no more, and thirst no more;
the sun will not strike them,
nor any scorching heat;
for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of the water of life,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Observation:

Suffering is never anything that we like to talk about. Yet, here in the book of Revelation, John notes that there are those who are robed in white, who are standing before the throne of God. They have suffered for their faith, having lived through a terrible ordeal. Now, they are able to stand in God’s holy presence where Jesus himself will shelter them. Everything that the world had to throw at them, whether hunger, or thirst, or heat, or natural disaster, would no longer touch them for they would now be protected eternally. 

Jesus, is the Lamb who will be their shepherd. The vision is one of the time coming where there will be eternal springs of water which will bring life. The things that once brought tears to their eyes will be gone, and Jesus, will comfort those who suffer. 

Application:

Wrestling with the idea of suffering is never easy. None of us wants to suffer, nor do we want to watch others suffer. However, one of the things that happens in my job is that I see the world. This weekend I’ve been in Antananarivo, Madagascar, which is famous for their street children. We are told that 82% of the children here live in poverty. As you drive through the streets it’s not uncommon to see those who are suffering. 

At the same time there is a direct contrast when you see the faces of the children who have found their way to the church. Ministering holistically, the church provides education, food and the hope found in Jesus Christ. I watched as little children played the bells to a familiar song, “Jesus loves me.” Their eyes were bright and there was hope because their physical needs, as well as their spiritual needs were being met. 

The vision from heaven should be one of future hope, but that can be experienced even now in the present kingdom of God. The world is filled with those who suffer and they are in desperate need of the love, comfort and protection found in the presence of the Lamb. If you and I are supposed to be participating with Christ and his mission in this world, then we are to step into the place of Christ in their lives. Christians are supposed to be the ones who will protect the little ones, providing them with enough food, water, and protection from the environment so that they will no longer hunger and thirst, or be scorched by the sun. You and I are to guide them to springs of living water. It’s not enough to just meet physical needs, but we must lead people to Jesus. It’s the living water that leads to a place of hope and eternal satisfaction, with a resultant joy in our daily lives. You and I are to wipe away the tears, touching those who need to be touched by the living God. They will be comforted with the comfort of Jesus.

If you and I step into the role of participating with Christ in his mission in this world, then the eschatological (end time) vision of Revelation, will be a reality. The curtain of heaven will be pulled back to see that a little bit of heaven is already here on earth. 

There will be those who suffer. We may be the ones who suffer. There is a promise of comfort and sustenance for those who find their way to the Good Shepherd. 

Prayer:


Lord, I pray that my heart will never grow callous from what I see. May I have a heart of love for those who suffer, and may I respond as you would respond. Amen. 

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