Do you know one of the hardest questions for those of us who have grown up in church? Not “Why do you dress like that?” or “That’s how you’re doing relationships? Really?” or “Why do you believe that?” No, the real, true, dreaded, impossible question.
“What’s your favorite Bible verse?”
Ok, perhaps I’m being a bit tongue-in-cheek. But this is still always a difficult question. How do you expect me to pick just one verse out of the entire Word? How can I love just one sentence of God’s story more than the others? It depends on my struggles at the moment. It depends on what I’m studying. It depends on what He’s teaching me. It depends on the month, the day, or the hour. Which is a blessing in a sense, proof that His Word is living and active, continuing to teach us throughout all of life. But that doesn’t make answering the question any easier.
However, there has been one passage this last year that has stayed very near the top of my list. (Notice, I said passage, rather than verse, so technically I’m still evading the question.)
“Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I shew you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” – 1 Corinthians 15:50-58
Because honestly, this last year has been exhausting. All of us have experienced this. We have basketball practices to make and get-togethers to schedule and papers to finish and doctors to call and finals to take — and we’re tired. We’ll soldier on through our weeks, but still inside of us we cry “How long?”
We know it shouldn’t be this hard. We know we shouldn’t have to struggle against so many sins and situations. We groan, just like the rest of Creation, waiting for everything to be made new. We look about us at this corruption, and long for the Something Better that is coming. All these attacks, fears, and hatred — we know it can’t go on like this. Our world is restless for restoration. All our own selfishness, weakness, and impatience — we know it can’t go on like this. We’re eager for the day when we will be made new.
At the moment, we feel surrounded by the darkness, punctuated only by the slow red-and-white flash of ambulance lights. Lost on these tilting plates, the world seems sliding faster and faster into chaos.
But it won’t always be this way.
So we’re waiting. We’re peeking ahead. Like a child standing on his tiptoes, we crane our necks and search with our eyes to catch the glimmer. Because we know it’s coming soon.
And when it does, all our work, all this pain, all this hurt; it will have been worth it. We’ll dance in exultation, we’ll sing throughout eternity. Our wounds will be washed away. Our hurts will be healed. The long years of loneliness, the dark nights of sorrow, the hours of anguish; in that moment light will tear through the shroud, and all darkness will flee as the Son bursts forth in brilliance.
Death has been de-fanged. The grave has been robbed. What power does evil have? What rule has the darkness? God has given us the victory, in the most absurdly beautiful of ways — through His death. We know how the story of everything ends.
And because we know the end, we know how to respond now. We don’t have to fear the darkness. There’s no need to cave to the chaos. We know what we are fighting for, and what we are waiting for. An earth made new. The return of a King. An everlasting kingdom.
So, my brothers and sisters, be strong. Be brave. Don’t be swayed. Through the darkness, through the hurt, through the pain, always serve Him. Be a light, proclaiming His truth, and His hope. Because your work will be worth it.
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, immoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”