“For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life . . . So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:4,6).
WHEN OUR HEARTS ARE HURTING, WE OFTEN FAIL TO SEE WHERE THE HURT IS REALLY COMING FROM. Specific injuries, losses, and disappointments do hurt by themselves, obviously, but most of the time the void that we think would be filled if we could have back the thing we’ve lost is much deeper than we think. We may think we need the earthly thing we’ve lost, but in all likelihood the pain we feel having lost that thing is simply a reminder of a deeper, and more important, void: the loss of direct friendship with God. The joy of seeing our God’s face is what we need most. In this life, we long for that joy with a pain that can rightly be called “homesickness.” And until, in Christ, we’re reunited with our Father, every hurt we feel should be a reminder of how empty our hearts must be until the day when God fills them completely.
Paul said that “while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord.” That doesn’t mean we can’t have fellowship with God in this life. We can, and that fellowship involves true joy. But as long as we live in this world, broken as it is by sin and sorrow, the fellowship we can have is little more than a foretaste or down payment on the direct, face-to-face communion we’ll be able to have with God in heaven (Revelation 22:4,5). Deep down, that’s what we long for. And that’s why our hearts hurt right now.
So how does it help us to recognize this truth? It certainly doesn’t make our hurts disappear. What it does do, however, is restore our perspective on what has gone wrong. And it reminds us that God is working toward a lasting solution to our real problem. Rather than patch our wounds with a superficial bandage, He gave His Son to atone for our sins. And that opens the door to hope — hope that our hearts will be filled up when we reach home.
“So it is that men sigh on, not knowing what the soul wants, but only that it needs something. Our yearnings are homesickness for heaven. Our sighings are sighings for God, just as children cry themselves to sleep away from home and sob in their slumber, not knowing that they sob for their parents. The soul’s inarticulate moanings are the affections, yearning for the Infinite, and having no one to tell them what it is that ails them” (Henry Ward Beecher).