There is a joy that marked the ministry of the Apostle Paul. He suffered greatly as he ministered for the Lord, yet he was full of joy. Paul’s joy was grounded in hope–the hope of the resurrection. Anchoring our hope the way Paul did can change the way we look at life and death, and the pain and weariness that life can bring.
Paul trusted in the promise of God’s presence. He knew that believers would be resurrected to come into the presence of God. And God’s presence, will be the greatest joy of heaven. He says in 2 Corinthians 13, “We speak, knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence.” The resurrection is not an end in itself, but the means to a greater end.
We will experience the direct enjoyment of God. This is so wonderful we cannot imagine all that it will mean. We will see the Father face-to-face. We will need no temple there to worship Him, we will need no mediator to approach Him, we will need no light to see him. There are no words to adequately describe this reality, so we can only long for it.
Every Christian longs… to finally see the Saviour. All the joys of earth and heaven pale in comparison to this.
As we see the Father, we will see Jesus, our Saviour. We will look upon his nail-pierced hands. We will see His side, still scarred where the soldier plunged his spear. We will look upon the One who created us, the One who redeemed us, the One who gave His life so He could save us from the wrath we deserve.
Every Christian longs for this. As much as we want to see the people who have gone before us, the greatest longing of all is to finally see the Saviour. Doesn’t your heart leap to think of meeting Him? All the joys of earth and heaven pale in comparison to this.
A few years ago, the band MercyMe released the song “I Can Only Imagine”. In that song they spoke of the great longing to see Jesus. What’s amazing is that this song caught on not just with Christians. Somehow it spoke to a great longing in many people. They wrote:
Surrounded by Your glory,
what will my heart feel?
Will I dance for You, Jesus,
or in awe of You be still?
Will I stand in Your presence
or to my knees will I fall?
Will I sing hallelujah?
Will I be able to speak at all?
I can only imagine.
As much as we long to experience rest from this life, and to be reunited with the people we love, as much as we long to meet the people we have read about in the Bible or the pages of history, there is no longing like this—to be united with the Saviour.
Do you regard the best that this world has to offer as less than what the Lord promises in the world to come? Are your eyes fixed on this world or is your gaze beyond this world on the future that is to come?
Paul longed for the resurrection so he could experience the fullness of God’s presence. This sustained him as he spent another night in a cold and damp prison, being beaten and starved. As Christians, this can sustain us too. It can give us hope in any kind of pain or trial. And what an awesome hope it is!