Suffering Well: Longing for The Great Reward
This Is Not Our Home
As Christians, we easily settle into the world. One of the most common temptations is worldliness — to love the things of the world (1 John 2:15-16) and to believe the mirage that this really is our home.
The Bible tells a much different tale.
The reality is heaven, the mirage is earth. The glory is eternal things, the shadows are temporal things. The invisible realities are of superior value compared to the visible realities (2 Corinthians 4:16-18, 5:7).
George Whitefield said that God had seemed to always place a thorn in his nest, so as to keep him from being too settled in the world.
Could it be that in suffering we are reminded of that which is eternal, that which matters — the great reward — and to redirect our time and gaze upward?
God’s Hounds of Suffering
As little children, did you ever walk home from school? For most of us, walking home from school was always uphill both ways and in the snow. When I walked home from school, I would loiter. Yes, homeward, but with a regular and a normal sense of joy. I did not hurry homeward nor long for home on my stroll!
But had I been chased by dogs or something displaced my certainty and comfort on my walk, I would certainly increase my steps and my longing for home!
The Lord sends His hounds of suffering to hurry us homeward and to quicken our pace. Heaven is our great reward and often God’s means of redirecting our hearts to long for Him is through suffering.
Longing for Heaven
John Piper asks the most stinging question of all, “If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ were not there?”
Christ is our heaven — our great reward — whom have we in heaven but Him? (Psalm 73:25.)
In Philippians 1:20-21, Paul says that to live is Christ but to die is gain. To be with Christ is far better … and often, we do not think this way apart from God’s hand in providence.
We mustn’t mind a little temporal suffering if it brings us to an eternal, infinite Christ.