Present Pain and the Promise of Healing

In the last week as I have watched and prayed and cried regarding things in Israel, I could not help but think of John’s closing vision in Revelation. Here are two sections of that vision:

 “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” Revelation 21:2-4

 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.24 And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.25 And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there.And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it. And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life. And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” Revelation 21:23-22:2

At this moment is seems as though there is so much pain that healing could never come, so many tears that no one could wipe them away, and so much horror that every moment only brings offense to one side or the other. How strange then that in this 2000 year old vision that the place where there is now so much hurt is seen to be the source of future healing. When discuss Jerusalem, we interact with complex histories. John says Jerusalem is largely about our futures. In it, the LORD has placed a tree, not simply for the healing of Israelis, nor only for the Palestinians, but for all the nations. Where hurt seems to be always in season now, healing will always be in season then. Where no-one can get in peaceably now, the nations will enter then. Where there are roadblocks and checkpoints now, there will be gates that never close. Where there are seasons of light and darkness now, one day will be a place of continual brightness.

If our futures never rise higher than our hopes, maybe some hope can be inspired as we are reminded of our future. We may work for or against the coming day, but that won’t keep that Day from coming. When the cold facts on the bloody ground give us no way forward, a voice from heaven calls “Behold, I am making all things new.” Perhaps we should and can join that call with hopes as high as our future.