The Hope of RedemptionAbigail Long | August 9, 2018
To whom then will you compare me,
that I should be like him? says the Holy One.
Lift up your eyes on high and see:
who created these?
He who brings out their host by number,
calling them all by name;
by the greatness of his might
and because he is strong in power,
not one is missing.
North Korea denuclearization, terrorism, drugs in Central America and the border threat, situation in Syria, refugees, annexation of Crimea by Russia, corruption in Venezuela, Syrian Kurds fighting ISIS, a prisoner held unjustly, West Bank and Gaza conflicts, Russian interference in elections…
These were just some of the issues discussed in less than two hours in the Review of the FY2019 Budget Request for the Department of State by the subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs to the Senate Committee on Appropriations at the end of June.
To be honest with you, there have been times this summer where I have felt overwhelmed in my internship, feeling what seems to be the weight of the world settling down on my heart when I hear similar discussions at the United Nations. Quite literally hearing about the world’s problems all day long is taxing and often disheartening. I feel at times like I have no “shock” left in me. Truth is constantly twisted and distorted, sin is praised and paraded and applauded, and poverty abounds.
Yet amongst what seems to be hopelessness, I am reminded of the hope we have in Christ.
For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:16-17)
I find hope knowing God is the One who set the world in motion, and that He is the One Who keeps it spinning. I find hope knowing I’m not the one upholding anything, but “in him all things hold together.” The Creator God, Who “has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand” and “marked off the heavens with a span” (Isaiah 40:12) is upholding the universe. “The nations are like a drop from a bucket” before Him (Is. 40:15). He brings princes to nothing, and the inhabitants of the earth are like grasshoppers in front of Him (Is. 40:22-23). No one has taught Him understanding, justice, or knowledge (Is. 40:14). He calls the starry host by name (Is. 40:26, NIV).
What comfort comes from knowing THIS is the God who has the responsibility of upholding the universe.
I find hope knowing this same loving Creator is coming again soon to redeem His Bride and to redeem our broken world. I have never appreciated the coming redemption of the universe more than I have this summer. It took the opening of my eyes to a deeper level of brokenness to appreciate redemption on a deeper level.
At Liberty University, I took a New Testament course as part of my undergraduate studies. One of the assignments was to read the book of Revelation – and we had to sign an honor statement that we read it in its entirety. Of course, I procrastinated the assignment and ended up with very little time to complete it. One evening, I went to the campus library and read the entire book of Revelation in one sitting. While I do not recommend procrastination, and I certainly did not walk away with any more knowledge of the deeper theology behind the book, I did walk away worshipping and in awe of the absolute glory and power of God. Reading the whole book at once helped me step back and see the bigger picture of His majesty and power.
In some ways, I feel the same about this summer. Hearing constantly about the brokenness and depravity of the world has been way too much to analyze or take in all at once, but the overall experience has led me to walk away with an appreciation for the power, Sovereignty, and redemptive purposes of God with greater measure than ever before. God knows every single wrongdoing, hears every cry for justice, and sees every starving child. He understands not only the brokenness of the world, but also the brokenness of my own heart. And yet amidst the darkness, we have the hope of the One who existed before the world began.
“Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”…He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” (Revelation 22: 12-13, 20a)
Do we live each day in hopeful expectation of Christ’s return? Do we understand the depths of our hope of redemption, a redemption of both soul and body, of both the spiritual and physical world in which we live?
I have been reminded of this sense of urgency and longing through my own relationship. My boyfriend is hiking the Appalachian Trail this summer, a roughly 2,200 mile endeavor. While I am thankful for the contact we’ve had, it has been over a month without seeing each other face to face, there have been weeks we’ve gone without even talking on the phone, and many days passed without any contact at all. There are times I’ve missed him so much it hurt, and others when I feel restless waiting for him to return.
The other day, he texted me and said, “I’m coming for you soon.” Those words held so much weight it that moment! They gave me hope and encouragement when I missed him most. I know that even though I don’t see him and sometimes struggle to communicate, he still loves me, and he is getting closer and closer to finishing and returning to be in my presence again.
His words made me reflect on how our experience is an image of Christ’s return. “Surely I am coming soon,” He tells us (Rev. 22:20). Christ Himself is coming for us, to redeem us and to be with His Bride forever. Even when we don’t see Him physically, even if we struggle to communicate or at times don’t “feel” like He is close, He is real, He is near, and He loves us so deeply. We are coming closer and closer to finishing the race and to spending eternity in His presence. How much sweeter, how much more comforting, how much greater a promise than anything we could ask or imagine!
What is the greatest longing of your heart? What do you desire or look forward to more than anything else? Do we long for the return of Christ and the redemption of the world more than we long for anything or anyone?
For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:22-23)
As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. (Psalm 42:1)
We long for the return of our Savior, and we also long to know Him more deeply here. Thankfully, the Bible gives us countless encouragements and promises of the hope we have as we wait for ultimate redemption.
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9)
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:23-25)
He is returning for us soon! All the Nations will be gathered before Him (Matt. 25:32), and the glory of the Lord will be revealed. May we live every day longing to be near to Him, in our everyday personal relationship with Him and in light of the coming promise of eternity.
And so I echo the words of Revelation in hopeful expectation. “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22: 20b).
*All verses are from the English Standard Version of the Bible, unless otherwise noted.
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