3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
Revelation 21:3-5 English Standard Version (ESV)
This section of the Bible is my favorite. I talks about how things will change when Jesus returns to Earth, and God, takes Earth as we know it, and replaces it with a new version. The new Earth thing is pretty awesome but that is not the part that grabs me. God is what grabs me.
At this point in my life I have had the opportunity to both experience the presence of God, and the feeling of being a million miles away from Him. I enjoy the presence part much more. To feel God working in my life and in the circumstances around me is such a peaceful and yet exhilarating experience. To know that I am close to the Creator is mind blowing and really hard to describe.
The feeling of being a million miles away from God is not that way. There have been times when the separation was by my choosing. Thinking that I know best and trying to do things my way. There have been times where I feel that God has pulled back the feeling of His presence so that I am required to walk by faith. While the latter is a way to build me up and ultimately strengthen my relationship with Him the resulting feelings can be just as painful. In my worst moments I have wondered if God had decided to go out to lunch or take a nap. I question His faithfulness, I question His goodness and His grace and mercy and love. I have yelled, screamed, cried out to God “WHY?!?”
Just because I am a believer in Jesus Christ doesn’t mean I will never have doubts.
I don’t know if I will ever completely know the “why” that was going on in those times. But I do know that no matter what is going on someday I will never have to worry about that again because I will never have to feel that separation again. God will be with me. He will be close.
God will wipe every tear from my eye because I will no longer need them. I won’t have to feel the sting of loss and death because I will have everything I need and want with me in Him. I won’t feel pain because the world will no longer be broken, so there will be nothing to hurt me.
My mind will no longer suffer from the struggle that is mental illness. Because I will have a new body, a perfect body, a perfect mind. The lies that tell me that God doesn’t love me, want me, or see me as His own will be cast away because I will be able to look to Him for truth and ALWAYS hear His voice.
These verses give me hope. Hope that things will not always be this way. Hope that one day it will all make sense. Hope that I will never feel distant again.
It is because of this hope that I can face the struggles I face day in and day out. I can look in the mirror and see a man who has a purpose. A man who has a reason for being on this Earth until the new Earth comes and my God will be with me. Holding me, letting me know that it will all be ok, because His words are trust worthy and true.
I am reminded of an old hymn that was sung in church growing up. It is called “Because He Lives” by Kristin Chenoweth.
The chorus goes like this:
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow
Because He lives, all fear is gone
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living, just because He lives
My present may have times of trouble but when it comes right down to it I know that I am never truly alone. God never actually leaves me. I know He holds the future, so life is worth living.
33 I (Jesus) have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (ESV)
National Director of Mental Health for Celebrate Recovery