“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed.” 1 Peter 4:12-14
We find in this verse a benefit of suffering that is often overlooked—a longing for heaven. How often do you think about it…the Day of Christ? Do you long for the trumpet to sound announcing His return? Does the thought of your death make you sad, or do you long to pass from this life into the next? If I had to guess, I would say that very few people, including Christians, long for heaven. Why is that?
How do you view heaven…mansions, streets of gold, pearly gates and angels? One children’s song even describes God’s House as, “A big, big house with lots and lots of rooms. A big, big yard where we can play football. A big, big table with lots and lots of food.” One of the biggest mistakes we make is comparing heaven with this life. We should not long for heaven because it is going to be beautiful or filled with the finest things. We long for heaven because God is there, and Jesus is seated at His right hand. Nothing our minds can conceive compares to that.
Most of us live fairly comfortable lives. If we are sick, we can get medicine to treat us. If we are tired, we can rest and take a break. If we are hungry, food is readily available. Most of us can worship without fear of persecution. While we may face some hardships, life overall is pretty good. This, my friends, is perhaps the biggest reason that we don’t long for heaven. The Apostle Peter said that we can rejoice in suffering because it causes us to be, “overjoyed when His glory is revealed.” Have you ever been with a Christian at the end-stages of a painful illness? Many will beg to die so that they can pass into a pain-free eternity. It makes sense…the harder life is here, the greater the longing to be free from it.
There are many, many reasons to long for heaven—no sickness, sadness, death or tears; no temptation, Satan, flesh or sin; complete unity, love and fellowship with all people; creation restored; eternal rewards; and being reunited with lost loved ones. Heaven is more than we can even imagine. Heaven is where King Jesus sits on His throne. The Father is enthroned in glory, surrounded by the heavenly hosts who continually worship Him saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD God Almighty!”
We must remember that this world is not our home. If we allow ourselves to become too comfortable, it will steal our affection for Christ and our desire to be with Him in heaven.
Holy Father, It is so easy to grow comfortable in this life. I know I have a mission here for Your glory; but this is not my home. Please help me to live as a citizen of heaven. May any suffering create in me a deep longing to see You face to face. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.