Today And Tomorrow

There is a most interesting statement made about God in Ecclesiastes 3:11, “God has made everything beautiful for its own time.  He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.”  The three facts here are clear:  1) God makes everything beautiful in His own time  2) He has put eternity in our hearts  3) We don’t know everything about our present or our tomorrow.  What encouragement can we take from these facts?

First of all, it is a matter of faith to believe that in the midst of our personal pain and sorrow, that God is, in fact, making something beautiful out of it.  What can be good when people we love die, or trusted friends of a lifetime betray us, or financial blessing goes bankrupt, or illness racks our once healthy bodies, or loneliness and despair sinks us into a pit of depression, or failure captures our sense of self worth sending our shattered emotions into a prison of hopelessness?  Can something of beauty be made from any of the above?

In our best human reasoning and fortitude, to press ahead in order to conquer all that seeks to destroy us, at its very best brings a temporary solution which is limited to our physical days on earth.  We may gain some victory, with our own efforts, over all that assaults us today, but can we have peace in the midst, and what about tomorrow?  Our verse in Ecclesiastes tells us that a lasting success of joy and peace is indeed possible for all we face today and for all that will come tomorrow.  We know this because God has placed eternity in our hearts.  What exactly does this mean?

It means that it is God Himself who puts purpose into the hearts of humankind.  It is humans who sense destiny.  We are born with a void in our soul that seeks to be filled with meaning for life that will last, not just for a period of defined time, but for eternity.  Humans contemplate life after death.  Are we but dust?  Are we reincarnated into yet another person doomed to last for a time and die again and again?  Do we pass into oblivion becoming nothing at all?  If any of these lines of thought were true, we would not have a sense of “eternity” in our hearts.  There would be no reason for this if there were no eternity beyond our present human existence.  We would not be created to seek meaning or purpose in life if that life merely vaporized into nothing at the moment we took our last breath.

Our sense of eternity, planted in our hearts by God, is to give us a hope that is certain and steadfast.  When God makes everything beautiful in His time, eternity is literally out of this world and today with God renders everything possible.  God is creating a new heaven and a new earth and we are all invited to be a part of that eternity.  In that eternity there is no death again, friends do not betray or accuse, there is no need of finance to survive because all is provided in eternity by God, illness will cease, loneliness plagues no one, and success is a way of life for all, filling us with joy and peace that never fades.  While we wait, God gives us all strength and courage to get through anything at all.

We don’t understand the pain of our present and we can’t know all that tomorrow holds on earth or in eternity, but God has given us promises.  He has promised to be our strength on earth when we are weak, to be our light when we walk in the dark, to never leave us when trusted friends do, to be our food when we are hungry, to quench our thirst for satisfaction, to fill us with lasting peace in the midst of unimaginable pain, to be our quiet joy when we hope for another weary day to end.

As that wonderful hymn by Alison Krauss reminds us:

I don’t know about tomorrow, I just live from day to day.  I don’t borrow from its sunshine, For its skies may turn to gray.  I don’t worry o’er the future, For I know what Jesus said, And today I’ll walk beside Him, For He knows what is ahead.

Many things about tomorrow I don’t seem to understand, But I know who holds tomorrow and I know who holds my hand.

A Promised Reunion

This week I attended the funeral of a very dear friend.  When I was much younger I dreaded the very thought of a funeral.  It seemed a scary thing to me.  Now, my understanding has deepened.  I have come to understand that for the one who personally knows Jesus, a funeral is not merely an acknowledgement of death; it is a celebration of life lifted to a new height.  The spirit has left earth to see the face of Jesus.

What a promise to everyone who knows Him.  Just think, the moment we exhale our last breath on earth, we inhale our first breath in sheer paradise.  Sickness is suddenly vanished.  Tears are no more.  Pain is gone, never to return.  Grief, despair, tiredness have all ceased to exist.  Loneliness can never be known again.  Feelings of low self esteem and rejection will never touch us.

When we try our best to imagine this reality, the very thought sends, what I call, joy bumps all over.  Someone we love may have passed on to their new life and we are saddened not to see them for awhile; but indeed, it is only for awhile.  Parting is not forever for those who are counted as God’s own children; it’s just a temporary separation.  It’s a time not to dwell on the departure, but to look forward to the reunion.

That must be why Paul could say in II Corinthians 5:8, “Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord.”  Our earthly homes are just a part of our pilgrimage as we pass through life on earth, en route to our final destination, which is to behold the face of the One who made the only way for us to have eternal life with Him.

As the old hymn says, “What a day that will be when my Jesus I shall see, and I look upon His face, the One who saved me by His grace.”