For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. 1 Corinthians 13:12
Yesterday, as I was driving through the countryside from an out-of-town funeral, I looked down the road and saw a magnificent rain shower ahead. The clouds spread out across a darkening sky, some were grey, some were mixed with shades of brown, some were still white, but dulled by the darker clouds around it. As I kept going, I soon came under the shadow of the clouds, but not under the torrential downpour ahead. ‘Seems fitting for the day,’ I thought, ‘just as the darkness of death still spreads over the Earth.’ And, while I knew it was not a day of mourning for the woman now gone, there was still a shadow over her daughter and the other loved ones left. It was a day of mourning for them… as would be tomorrow and many days after that.
Suddenly, a few clouds parted to my left, allowing bright rays of sunlight to stream over part of the rolling green hills. The light rays streaming over the darkened landscape were beautiful with hope, but it was the light gleaming around the clouds that captured my attention. I could see that while everything was dark on land, the parting in the clouds revealed the clouds above were bright white with the sun, that the sky there was vibrant blue, that no shadow touched the scenery there. The sun seemed to shine brighter and brighter until the edges of the clouds seemed like they were lined with gold. I imagined what it would be like to break free from the dark shadows and through the clouds see that light clearly, with nothing in the way.
As happens, the clouds closed again and I, still being on Earth, had to drive through the rain storm. But as I drove, I remembered the gold in the clouds and knew the storm would not last. When the storm did finally end, the sun came back out and cast a vibrant rainbow across the sky: a reminder of God’s promises as the gold-lined clouds had been. Promises that lead believers from hope to hope even while the shadow of suffering spreads over them. The promises that one day, that shadow must give way for the promise of eternal life in the presence of the One True God, the Ever-present One who faithfully loved, guided, and comforted His child through the time of the shadow.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God,, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty, I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as the the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death…
…And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, transparent as glass.
And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day — and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nation. No longer will there be anything accused, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. Revelation 21:1-8, 21-27, 22:1-5
And these promises give the believer the strength to carry on, even in the land covered with shadow, until the promises are seen.
But, as it is written,
“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”— 1 Corinthians 2:9
Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that he made to us – eternal life. 1 John 2:24-25
For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58