“For behold, I create new heavens
and a new earth,
and the former things shall not be remembered
or come into mind.
But be glad and rejoice forever
in that which I create;
for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy,
and her people to be a gladness.”
This morning I read a devotional by Charles Spurgeon. In it, he was focusing on the tribulations we must go through to enter the kingdom of God. And in that moment, my heart—which becomes so accustomed to comfort and ease—wondered why this has to be the case.
It isn’t a new question for me. I seem to go through cycles of understanding—I’ll wonder why God works the way He does, I’ll seek His face and He’ll make it clearer to me, I’ll surrender and rejoice in His wisdom and grace, and then time will pass and I’ll begin to wonder again. But, in His amazing faithfulness to and patience with me, once again my God will open my eyes and make things a bit clearer.
There is sorrow here, in this life. Deep pain which makes it hard to breathe and threatens to steal our joy. Difficult circumstances that seem to have no end in sight and threaten to rob us of hope. Loss and sickness and hardship. Various trials and confusing, dark paths, during which all we can do is look to our Lord and wait for Him to show that He is for us, that He is faithful and mighty to save.
At times, we can wonder why this God of perfect love would purpose us to walk through this affliction. But this passage in Isaiah 65 reminds me that His purposes extend far beyond this life, far beyond what we can see.
Our God is preparing us for the new heaven and new earth He has in store. Creation as it was always intended to be—without sin, without its curse, without all that gets in the way of unhindered fellowship with our God of light and joy. He is preparing our hearts and our faith for the wonderful future described toward the end of Revelation, when the dwelling place of God will be with man, when night will be no more, when there will be no need for light of lamp or sun because the Lord God will be our light, and we will reign with Him forever and ever.
God is in the process of freeing our souls to be glad and rejoice forever in that which He creates.
He is, right now, creating His people to be a gladness. Jerusalem—our home toward which we are journeying—will be a joy.
All the trials, all the afflictions, are necessary to make us ready for the ages to come. Ridding us of all impurity. Destroying every idol that hinders us from seeing and delighting in the glory of our King.
These seasons of difficulty are refining us so that we will be cleansed from all unrighteousness and able to fully rejoice in our God. And in the midst of the trials, He is with us. Sustaining us. Comforting us. Strengthening us. The God who reigns over all things is for us. He is being faithful, even in pain, even in moments when we can’t see Him. He is preparing us for an eternity in which we will know pure joy and unhindered worship of the One who never failed us.
“O afflicted one, storm-tossed and not comforted,
behold, I will set your stones in antimony,
and lay your foundations with sapphires.
I will make your pinnacles of agate,
your gates of carbuncles, [–>red gemstones, such as a deep red garnet]
and all your wall of precious stones.”
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:3-7