Sunday, May 12, 2019
And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes
I want to begin today by saying, “Happy Mother’s Day” to all the Moms here today, as well as, to those who serve as Mom substitutes. You deserve to be celebrated on this special day because of the incredible impact you have on so many lives.
A good mother is such a powerful example of God’s love. Many mothers are willing to do almost anything to communicate their love to their children. Some even try desperately to keep up with the changing styles popular with young people nowadays. Good luck with that.
Reader’s Digest magazine recently published some amusing texts from mothers who weren’t aware of the most current acronyms young people use for texting. You know what an acronym is. We use them all the time. An acronym is a word formed from the first letter or first few letters of each word in a phrase or title. For example, R.S.V.P. is an acronym for a French phrase, “Répondez s'il vous plait,” “Respond if you please.” Or F.B.I. is an acronym, of course, for Federal Bureau of Investigation. Young people use acronyms all the time when texting.
One mother wanted to know the meaning of some acronyms she had seen. So, she texted her son. What do IDK, LY & TTYL mean? she asked in her text message. Without explanation, the son texted back: I don’t know, love you, talk to you later. Those, of course, were the meanings of IDK, LY & TTYL. Mom didn’t get it. She thought he was ignoring her with his message: I don’t know, love you, talk to you later. She replied: OK, I’ll ask your sister.
Another mother texted her son: Your great-aunt just passed away. LOL. The son replied: Why is that funny? Mom texted back: It’s not funny, David! What do you mean? The son texted: Mom, LOL means Laughing Out Loud. Mom replied: Oh, no! I thought it meant Lots of Love. Then she added: I have to call everyone back. That’s all right, Mom. It’s hard to keep up nowadays.
A few years ago, the Des Moines Register newspaper asked readers to send in stories of their Mom’s love. A woman submitted this short, but powerful example of a mother’s love and comfort: On my first day of kindergarten [my mother] gave me her wedding ring to keep in my sock as a reassurance I would be all right and that she would return for me.
Can you imagine a mother trusting her kindergartener with her wedding ring? That’s a powerful symbol of comfort. Her wedding ring was a reminder to her frightened child: You will be all right, and I will come back for you.
Isn’t that what God offers us in the image of the cross? Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, God left us a powerful symbol of comfort: you will be all right and I will come back for you. There are times when we need to be reminded of that promise.
We all come to those times in our lives when we need God’s tender care, when no one else can offer the comfort we need. There are hurts that only God can heal. There are burdens only God can lift. There are fears that only God can put to rest. So, it is with great joy that we read from the book of Revelation, “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
Life is sometimes very, very hard. We don’t understand why it’s hard, but it is. The writer of Revelation knew about tears. He lived in a time when many Christians were tortured and killed for their beliefs. We read in Revelation 6:9-10: I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?
They were thrown into gladiator pits, torn apart by wild animals, burned alive, the Apostle John, the author of Revelation, was in exile on the isle of Patmos, he had friends and fellow believers who suffered greatly under Roman rule. He couldn’t comfort them personally in their sufferings. He could only pray and weep in their behalf. Sometimes that’s all any of us can do, that and offer a word of much needed encouragement.
What we need to see, is that God does all that and more. In our time of need God also comes to us with His love and comfort. John writes, God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.
Life is sometimes very, very hard. Does anybody care? Yes, somebody does care. The God of all creation, the God of the heavens and the earth, the God of everything that moves and breathes, that great God cares about your hurts, your needs, your concerns and mine. God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.
Notice how personal and intimate that word picture is, God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Like a mother holding her child in her arms giving comfort and solace. The cynical person among us would say that we try to create God in the image of man. If so, blame it on Jesus. After all, didn’t He teach us to pray saying, Abba or Daddy? Let the cynics mock us. For all His power and might and majesty, the God of the Bible has the tender heart of the most loving mother or father.
God came in human form, in the person of Jesus Christ, to share our pains. He is our great Comforter because He knows our weakness and our heartbreaks. He came to wipe away our tears.
But notice something else from our lesson in Revelation, God’s very intimate love is being expressed toward a very special group of believers. These are those who have come through the great tribulation when there was much suffering for the cause of Christ. These are those whose robes have been washed in the blood of the Lamb. Now they’re dressed all in white before the throne of God, and He’s personally wiping away every tear.
It’s important that we understand that God’s promises are directed to a very special group of people. Many of us have a mushy kind of faith that says, Everything’s all right. Jesus loves me, this I know. It doesn’t matter what I do with my life. He always forgives. That’s what God is for, to forgive.
I suppose this attitude was epitomized in a little song that Simon and Garfunkel sang on the soundtrack of the motion picture The Graduate a few years ago. I heard this song on the radio and I thought it would give us a reminder. The song is Mrs. Robinson, and the words Jesus loves you more than you can know, wo, wo, wo. Mrs. Robinson was an adulteress. Mrs. Robinson was morally bankrupt. She represented the bored and immoral modern style of living, the time of free love. But that’s all right. Jesus loves you more than you can know, wo, wo, wo.
Whoa right there. Or as the Old Testament prophets would say, Woe, woe, “w-o-e,” woe. The God that was revealed to John on the Isle of Patmos is no dispenser of cheap grace. The love and concern that God gives to each of His children has been bought at a terrible price.
We’re so like the little boy who says to his father, Let’s play darts. I’ll throw and you say wonderful! That’s what we want out of God. Tell us that we’re wonderful. Tell us that we’re accepted, forgiven, loved. But don’t tell us that our robes are dirty. Don’t tell us that they need to be washed in the blood of the Lamb.
Psychologists are telling us today about “tough love.” Many parents think they’re loving their children when they don’t give them guidance, don’t make demands on them, let them do anything they please. Such love is usually rewarded only with resentment. Love is never a monologue. God’s love is all encompassing, inexhaustible, everlasting, but in order to experience that love we must be open to Him, we must be doing our part to maintain the relationship, we must seek to give our best if we want to receive His Best. God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Yes, but these words are directed only to a special select fellowship, those who have given their all to Him.
But there’s one thing more to be said: If God has ever wiped the tears from your eyes, shouldn’t you be finding someone else who is hurting and do the same thing for them?
God’s love is a very intimate, personal love. But love is a two-way street. Indeed, love at its best is not only between us and God, but it is also to be shared, particularly with those who also have tears in their eyes.
There’s no greater grief or loss than that of losing a child. What could we have done differently, going over the events of that awful night many times in your mind, wondering what we could have done differently to ensure a different outcome? We call this the land of What If. In reality though, the land of What If, isn’t a good place to be for any of us. It’s a place of regret, second-guessing, and hopelessness. While the grief is real and the sadness persists, life is better, and God is honored if we dwell in the world of What Is.
Choosing to live in the land of What Is means remembering God’s promises that He will never leave us or forsake us. It means holding onto the promise that your loved one is with God, and she will never again experience tears or sorrow or pain. In the land of What Is, we remember that our God is an ever-present help in trouble. And in the land of What Is, we find other believers who offer us comfort and strength when we need it most.
Which land have you been living in recently? The land of What If, where you feel trapped by despair and hopelessness? Or the land of What Is, where you find your strength and hope in the God who promises to wipe away every tear from your eyes? Through Jesus Christ, God offers you love and comfort now and the unshakeable hope for the future. Its not decision theology to want what Christ has to offer, in the What Is, because He has already given that to you as a gift. Amen.