I love the insignt we can gather from others who are running this race of life with us. I spent some precious moments with one of the most beautiful people I know over last weekend in between wedding festivitives of a dear friend. As this young lady and I sat over a scrumptious rehersal dinner, we talked about suffering (I know it might seem weird but there was a lot of context which I won't bother you with now), and joy, and the God who redeems. I have watched this young lady grow up and she is one of the very closest people in my life at this point. She has endured suffering in pretty much every area of her life, yet she still shines with a gorgeous smile and her heart is still tender and pliable in the hands of God. We discused the reason for joy, and the differences between happiness that the world chases which is so different than lasting true peace and joy in the hope God gives His children. As we talked and shared what God has been teaching us both, she said something that stood out to me. She said that sometimes when life hurts so much she reminds herself that this is as close as we (as Christians) will ever get to hell. We have the hope and promise that heaven awaits us - full of total and all encompassing joy, perfection in every way, and lack of all suffering. This life on earth is such a small part of our existence - and we don't have to fear hell because Jesus Christ has saved us by paying the price for our sins in dying on the cross.
When we look at life through this perspective, it really helps us walk with our hope in tact through suffering of all kinds. Are we always happy? No, but we can always be rejoicing in the hope and love that Christ pours out on us every moment. We can be honest about the suffering that this life on earth brings - but also we can raise our eyes above the pain and see the face of the Lord and know that everything is going to be ok.
I thank God for this godly and very dear friend, and for the lessons that I am able to learn by watching her walk with the Lord through suffering toward eternal joy.