Friday, June 29, 2012

The Door of Heaven Lays on the Other Side of Suffering

“Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” ~ Acts 7:56, NIV

A few days ago, I was spending precious time with the Lord, using one of my favorite devotionals STREAMS IN THE DESERT.  The particular entry I was reading discussed Gospel writer and beloved disciple, John, seeing the door to heaven opened while he was exiled on the isle of Patmos. It also mentioned that Jacob, while at odds with his brother, lonely, on his way to find a wife, saw heaven opened with the angels ascending and descending.

I could not help but read this passage and wonder, Is it possible to see heaven without marching straight through the heart of suffering?  As I pondered this, the Holy Spirit brought more verses to mind.  Not the least of these was the passage from Acts of Stephen's persecution.   

Stephen was the church's first martyr.  Under intense scrutiny from the authorities of his faith community, facing certain punishment, he persevered in his faith in Christ.  As a result, he saw heaven opened before him and feared nothing.  Despite the horror and pain of being stoned, with joy he commended his spirit to the Lord.

As the parent of a child with special needs, have you seen the door of heaven opened before you?  I have.  Most recently, I saw it last weekend.  Two young boys stood smiling next to each other, flexing their muscles for a picture.  The remarkable part of that scene is that these two had only a few short months earlier been hospitalized at the same place at the same time, suffering tremendous pain from their diagnoses.  And now they were rejoicing in their Maker together at an outdoor worship service.  One of those boys was my son.  Wow!  How could I not cry tears of joy at this scene?  These two have the hope of eternal glory in the Lord, despite their intense pain here on earth.

That is a foretaste of heaven!  Each time we see our child's smile in spite of their difficulties, we see that door to eternity opened.  Every occasion where we feel that peace that indwells us in spite of our circumstances, we receive that unique opportunity to peek into paradise.  Any time our hope is renewed contrary to what our situation tells us, we view the kingdom we're headed for.  Because, you see, we are just passing through this world, headed for a place where, "There will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All the old things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4, NLT)

Presently, we live in that world of the "old things," and that includes suffering on our way to glory.  If you are feeling discouraged today, take heart and look heavenward.  Jesus is opening the door for you!

PRAY:  Oh, Father, too often I feel like this journey is dark.  Help me to look up and see the unique opportunity our suffering gives us to peek into the eternal.

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