As you well know, this year has had more than its share of challenges. Millions have either lost their lives or been severely impacted in other ways by the global pandemic. There’s unrest and fighting in the streets, and many individuals are struggling with health and/or financial issues. With all this in mind, it’s no wonder that many find themselves discouraged more than normal this year.
I’m not sure about you, yet I generally have a very positive outlook. I tend to see things through an eternal perspective based on biblical faith. This being so, I try to put challenges and trials in context. I know that no matter how bad things get here, I can trust that God knows what’s happening and will give me and those I love what we need to face whatever may come.
Despite this, I too become discouraged from time to time. I’ve had some health issues recently, and I found myself somewhat down this morning for reasons that I couldn’t altogether explain. All I know is that I didn’t feel like praying or listening to the Bible as I generally do each morning. Even though I sensed the Lord close by, I just didn’t feel right.
As I pondered this, I recalled that music has an amazing way of helping at such times. For some reason music seems to communicate directly with one’s soul. The right song at the right time sometimes has a way of bringing encouragement when it’s needed and can’t easily be found elsewhere.
With this in mind I started exploring the song titles on my phone. I ran across one that means a great deal to me. In late 2017 my Mother was diagnosed with lung cancer, and was not given long to live. We discussed a lot about the Lord at that time, and I was thankful that she found comfort in her faith and in reading her Bible. Still, she shared with me that she was afraid of what it would be like to die, especially gasping for air. I said that I understood her fears, would be with her through it all, and then tried to think of ways to keep her focused on the Lord.
About that time I heard a song titled “Home” by Chris Tomlin. It was so encouraging and inspiring. I shared it with my Mom, and placed a link to it on the home screen of her computer. I’m not sure how many times she clicked on it, yet I suspect it was quite a few.
The power of this song can be found in the way in which it focuses on heaven. The entire message is that those who trust in Christ for salvation are not home right now. Our real home is in heaven, and when we arrive there everything we are facing now will seem insignificant. This is actually quite biblical. For example, 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NIV) reads:
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
We need to recall that Paul wrote this after enduring incredible hardships. He shares some of these experiences in the same chapter. He speaks of his and our troubles as light and momentary not because they are easy, but because in light of eternity and the joy that is to come in heaven, any troubles we face here, no matter how agonizing, can be borne by those who trust in God.
I listened to the song “Home” several times this morning. As I did so a few thigs happened. First, I cried. I did so because it can be overwhelming to realize afresh how much God has done for us in granting salvation to sinners. No matter what we’ve done, Jesus suffered and died to pay for our sins. The Bible makes it very clear that everyone whose ever lived, other than Jesus, is a sinner. Those who confess their sin, admit their need for a savior, and who receive the free gift of salvation through Jesus will be welcomed into heaven. We will be welcomed not based on any goodness that we possess, but only through the righteousness of Jesus.
My Mother trusted in Christ, and I do as well. With this in mind the second thing I did as I listened to this song was to rejoice that she’s now with God in heaven, and that I’ll see her there before too long. What an amazing realization, and what an encouragement as we face trials in this life!
I then started to think about those who’ve gone before me. At some point we’ll be together again with all those who died trusting in Christ for salvation. They are right now, at this very moment, enjoying God’s presence. There’s no sin, no illness, no tears, and no burdens. I’m not sure if they can see us at this point. If they can, what do you suppose they’re thinking as they watch us?
I strongly suspect that if they can see us they would be cheering us on to trust God more than we have ever done, and to remain faithful to Him no matter how difficult things become on earth. They might even quote Colossians 3:1-4 to us. In the NIV this says:
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Although we’ve not yet been raised with Christ physically, those who trust in Christ for salvation have died to sin, and now live in Christ spiritually as we await our own deaths or his return, whichever comes first. This chapter goes on to encourage us to throw off all the sin and evil that so entangled us before we trusted in Jesus, and that even now seeks to discourage us.
Again, I can only imagine that if those who are now in heaven can see us, they would be cheering us on in our faith and hope. They would make every effort to remind us that God has a purpose for our remaining time on earth, and that we should focus our hearts and minds on things above as we pursue this in good times and in periods of distress.
I have three challenges as you read this post. First, if you’ve never trusted in Jesus for salvation, please pray this prayer: “God, you are perfect, and I am not. I confess that I am a sinner. I cry out to you for forgiveness through Jesus. I accept the death of Jesus on my behalf, and ask that you would receive me as your child. Please allow your Holy Spirit to lead me in truth as I read the Bible for direction, and as I learn to trust in you.”
Second, ask God to direct you. Ask that he would make clear the purpose for which he created you. Be patient, and listen. It may not be clear right away, but at some point he will honor that prayer and you’ll discover why you are here, and what you are to do. And as you live, never forget to keep your heart and mind set on things above.
Finally, whether you’ve trusted in Jesus for years, or just came to faith now, CLICK HERE and listen to the song titled, “Home.” I’ll be impressed if you can do so without tears!