My mom was once dumped by a guy who, after breaking her heart, offered her the callous (and egotistical) consolation of "Brighter days will come." That line has survived as somewhat of a family joke during hard times, providing much-needed comic relief. Though, whenever it's said, deep down I kind of hope it's true.
I have wrestled with the fact that there are no "guarantees" in this life. Some people emerge from trials with stories of victory, and others continue to struggle and endure difficulty all their days. It's ok for me to ask God to deliver, but the fact is that he is God Almighty, sovereign over all creation (including me), and it may be his will for me to remain in difficult circumstances while I continue to trust Him.
As the new year of 2011 approaches, I'm torn between fear and hope. Will things get better, worse, stay the same? Are there any guarantees left in this life?
As I watched TV the other day, I heard a preacher refer to Ephesians 1:13-14:
In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
What I love most about this verse is that it doesn't offer false hope. It's not that God "might" bless me or "perhaps" things will get better. No. God the Father who sits on the throne of Heaven has given me a very personal guarantee - proof of his love - a certain sign of what is to come. And this guarantee is not a vision that someone could misinterpret or a letter that someone could fake.
When the Israelites wandered in the wilderness, the most important part of their identity was having God dwell with them. Moses said that they could not move forward unless God went with them (Exodus 33:15). When I read this, I realize that I take for granted the awesome gift that God now sends his Spirit to dwell in each believer. I don't need to go to a temple to seek him in prayer. I don't have to find a priest who can go to God on my behalf. Because of Christ's sacrifice and the gift of the Holy Spirit, I can now fellowship freely and continually with holy God. I also receive an iron-clad guarantee from God that I will one day acquire a mind-blowing inheritance - inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. (1 Peter 1:4).
That passage of 1 Peter reminds me that though I may suffer here for a while, the testing of my genuine faith glorifies God and is of greater worth than gold. It's important to keep my eyes on the prize this new year. In 2011, there may be great triumphs or more dark valleys, but the Lord God is with me every second and has given me a guarantee - that by believing in his only Son as Savior, my marvelous inheritance is signed for, I've been sealed, and now I'm just waiting for delivery.
For those who accept God's offer of his Son, it is only a matter of time before the brightest days do indeed come.