“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…” Revelation 21:4

Revelation 21:4 is a mere forty-four verses from the close of the whole Bible. We should take note. This broken world is marked by many good things. Life created by God is a gift. However, it is marked by many pains, as well.

If our Father has to wipe away every tear, there is reason to believe that time on earth is marked by grief and crying. Death will one day be no more; however, while there is life, there is loss. There will come a day when there will no longer be mourning because death will be defeated. We will not be compelled to cry anymore. We will not be overcome by pain brought on by the brokenness of this fallen world.

There’s a reason.

“…for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4

Tears, death, mourning, crying, and pain will be done away with literally. A day is coming when these “former things have passed away.” I love how one version translates this phrase. Instead of “former things,” it is translated as the “old order of things.”

Often when I’m on a vacation or a trip of some kind, I pause to reflect on how the trip is going. I think about what I did the first few days of my vacation and plan ahead for what is to come. Taking stock, acknowledging the map, is a healthy discipline.

Our map in this world is marked by a journey that includes tears, death, mourning, crying, and pain, no doubt. But, take stock of the road itself. It is a rough road, but it is built on a strong foundation. It is taking us somewhere. There is a destination. The bumps on this road will one day be no more. The old order—tears, death, mourning, crying, and pain—will be former trappings.

“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.’” Revelation 21:5-6

Old order gone. He is making all things new. Faith, therefore, is pressing into and believing what is currently unseen. This newness is promised in the midst of all the old and broken. Yes, there are tears, death, mourning, crying, and pain. But his promise is trustworthy and true. In fact, it is done already. It’s the promise of already-but-not-yet. The new is coming. Write it down. The dry parched existence sometimes experienced on earth will be met with free water from the spring of the water of life.

“Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” Revelation 21:9

During loss, we all need to dive into the redemptive story and tell ourselves the story that is coming. It is a story with an ending that differs from our current stories marked with pain. John, at the end of Revelation, had an angel tell him to come and see a Bride married to a Lamb. If you’re part of the Church, your story ends with a wedding to Jesus. That beautiful faith-truth overwhelms painful loss.

However, for now we live in the old order. There is pain in these former things. Loss must be faced. Lament is a healthy spiritual discipline. Jesus died to conquer the old order of things, the former things. While we live in the old order we should lament.

It is entirely appropriate to lament the current former things that plague our existence. Glory is coming but is not yet. Imagine—in your current darkness—a place of hope needing no sun because the Lamb is the light.

“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.” Revelation 21:23

“…I will hold the Christ-light for you in the night-time of your fear…” Richard Gillard, The Servant Song

2 Comments

  1. Greg Davis

    Great point – if God is going to wipe away all tears then that means there must be some tears along life’s journey. No doubt, you have cried more than your share of tears along the way.

    For some reason, this post caused me to think about a song written by Buryl Red in the 1970’s. In the lyrics, he asks these questions:
    Would you cherish loving arms, if you’d never shed a tear?
    Would you welcome going home, if you’d never been away?
    Would you treasure guiding hands if you’d never been alone?

    The idea is that going without certain pleasures can increase the elation we feel once they are restored. May the sorrow you have endured these past 3 years serve to amplify the happiness you feel now and the joy you will experience in the future.

    • D. Ray Davis

      Buryl Red’s song is great! I agree that I have valued my children, grandchildren, and now my new wife more as a result of loss. I valued Kim before but loss puts an exclamation point on the grace gifts.

      I learned early on reading Jerry Sittser (see my reference list) where he talked about fairness and came to the realization he did not deserve anything and valued grace over fairness. In a fair world, I don’t deserve my wife, children, or grandchildren. They are gifts of God’s grace. This applies to physical gifts, as well. A home or a job are gifts from God.

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