“Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, ‘Write: “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.“ ‘ ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors and their works follow them’ ” (Revelation 14:13).

LIFE IN THE PRESENT WORLD IS A MIXTURE OF JOY AND SORROW, AND THAT IS A FACT WE OFTEN RESENT. We wish our joys didn’t always have to be ruined by sorrow rearing its ugly head. And in fact, a day is coming, according to the gospel, when complete joy and rest will be given. But that time is not yet. For now, we need to accept the reality of both our toil and our tears.

Toil. Work was not a punishment for sin (for there was work to do in the Garden of Eden), but when sin entered the world, work became onerous. As a result, our lives in this world are characterized by a wearisomeness that we were never meant to experience. What once would have been richly fulfilling is now a burden.

Tears. Just as sin perverted the natural cycle of work and rest, it also perverted the rhythm of human emotion. Gut-wrenching sorrow and grief at the loss of things that, in Eden, we would never have lost break our hearts to pieces. And the more we know of the ways of the world, the harder it is to be anything but sad.

Rest and Joy. Heaven is presented to us as a place where we’ll be refreshed from our toil and relieved from our sorrow. “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord . . . that they may rest from their labors.” And oh, how that promise tugs at our hearts, even more than the “pearly gates” and the “streets of gold.” This empty, weary world has worn us out, and we long for simple rest and joy.

But what should we do about the un-rest and the un-joy right now? Accept them! In this world, toil and tears are not the exception but the norm. To see that, we need look no further than Jesus’ life. He had times of rest, but basically He came here to work. And He went to a wedding feast now and then, but basically He was a Man of Sorrows. He understood that great joy was waiting for Him in heaven, but He also understood that there was work to be done in the meantime. So yes, we will have our toil and tears, but what of that? Now is the time for work. The rest will come later.

“God washes the eyes by tears until they can behold the invisible land where tears shall come no more” (Henry Ward Beecher).

Gary Henry — WordPoints.com + AreYouaChristian.com

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