The Bible tells us life is but a wafer, our time on earth is short, and this world is not our home, and yet, we rarely speak of heaven. Most Christians don’t even have a clue what heaven is like. Perhaps our biggest deception, our biggest distraction, is the here and now. It’s like we’re all stuck in an airport terminal dining on stale ham and cheese sandwiches, fighting for access to the vending machine and the seat closest to the window, not realizing the Bahamas are only a short flight away. Yet Jesus endured the cross “for the joy that was set before Him.” And He told us to do the same.
According to John C. Hutchison, part of our inability to grasp eternity is due to our need for instant gratification. With instant messaging, texting, and high speed internet, we’re trained to think of the here and now. Tomorrow is a long way away. Eternity even longer…so long we consider it almost insignificant. Yet, the Bible tells us this world stinks. It’s plagued by sin, disease and death. (Genesis 3, Romans 8:22-28) One of the most oft quoted Scripture passages is Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” We use this verse to comfort ourselves when we lose a job, determining that God must have a better job waiting for us. We use it in the context of today–the here and now–but when we read the entire passage, I don’t think that’s what this verse is talking about. According to Romans 8, our world is under a curse. It groans, like a woman in childbirth. The hope is not in this life, but in the life to come.
Romans 8:20-28 “For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Here’s the problem with misquoting or misunderstanding the Romans 8:28 verse. If we’re looking for our rewards in the here and now, we won’t know how to handle it when difficulties come. We’ll be blind sighted. And even worse, we’ll lose hope, because what we hoped for may not come to pass. But our hope is not in this sin-plagued world. Our hope lies in eternity where God will wipe away ever tear from our eyes, where disease will be non-existent and our joy will be inexpressible. And God will reward His children for every trial endured here on earth.
Matthew 5:11-12 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad because great is your reward in heaven.”
Speaking of earthly trials, John C. Hutchinson says, “These dark moments actually have eternal significance!…Our lives are part of a bigger story, a drama that is unfolding in the heavenlies. When we understand this, it allows us to see every situation in life, especially the difficult ones, as faith opportunities that carry eternal significance.”