It’s all happened like this before. I can’t count the number of times I have heard, read on Facebook or responded in my blog about this idea that the whole world is going to hell in a handbasket, this is the worse than it has ever been (especially for Christians), there are wars and rumors of wars and false prophets everywhere, disease and illness is running rampant and Christians are being martyred across the globe, surely the time for the second coming soon
Of course, I don’t know when the Lord will return it may be this very moment that we are all called to account before the Lord’s presence or it may be our children’s, children’s, children’s, children. Just like I could not tell you when the Lord will call me to be with Him, our times and days are all in the Father’s hands.
But one of the things I do point out in those kinds of conversations is that through our human history it has all happened like this before: wars and rumors of wars, false prophets, disease and active Christian martyrdom, it has all happened like this before and to such a greater extent that we Western Christians living in the safety of the US truly don’t understand how bad it can get and has gotten throughout the centuries. My good friend from Liberia recounted to our church in New Jersey what it was like fleeing as a refugee from his country during the Civil War in the 1990’s, trying desperately to get his wife and children on a plane to the US and arriving in this country with absolutely nothing but the clothes on his back. It reminded me how I don’t know what that is like, but that is the same story of refugees throughout the years and the thousands fleeing religious persecution in the East. History testifies that it has all happened before.
Even as we feel and say that it is worse than it ever has been we also have this feeling that it will never end, things will always be like this, this endless cycle of pain, misery and sorrow, caught in an ever revolving circle of time and the best we can hope for is some stability in our time in the cycle and even that is fleeting by definition. This is the same idea of the Eastern religions focusing on karma, which is not a way out but a purgatory of self-cycles always being punished by unknown forces for unknown transgressions against unknowable gods. If you ever buy into the notion of karma you are buying into an ideology that has no hope. When we give into our worst feelings of depression and despair we go to the same place, nothing will change; we will feel like this forever.
But there is an end and this end is something new. This is the biblical revelation that is so counter-intuitive that it goes against our basic human feeling that we will be stuck like this forever, but tells us in no uncertain terms that we are going somewhere, as individuals, as humanity and as all of creation. From the beginning of time when God said let there be, all of creation has been unfolding in the great drama of existence, called to know it’s creator and moving to that day when the Creator will take what He has made and transform it into something new that will dwell in His presence eternally and we will be saved.
The prophet Daniel writes of this ending in our First Reading today from Daniel 12:1-3
But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.
It has NOT happened like this before, this is something new, this is God bringing Creation’s journey to completion. God has placed signposts throughout creation’s journey so we could know we are going somewhere. The biggest signpost of all was the life, death and resurrection of our Savior Jesus. Jesus healed disease, made the lame walk and the blind see, raised the dead from their graves all signs that God was working and moving us along on the journey. But on the cross, the death of an innocent man, a righteous man, cruelty hurled at him and his death celebrated as a cold, government looks on. It’s all happened like this before and if Jesus had stayed in the cold, dark tomb like everyone else, like has always happened before, we would have no reason to think otherwise than we were living in a lousy cycle of pain and death, but Jesus did not. On the Third Day Jesus rose from the dead in a renewed and glorious body and lives. Jesus lives and in Him we shall live also, it has not happened like this before. This is not part of the cycle; this is something new, a huge sign in the road saying the “End is near!” God has broken the myth of the cycle and shown us in the clearest way possible where we are going, to where God is making all things new, including us, a place that has never happened before but will one day soon happen eternally.
But for now, until that has never happened before moment comes we wait patiently for the Lord in confident hope that Easter morning points us to when all things will be made new. This is hard to do, because right now, we feel like we are stuck in the cycle of “It’s all happened like this before,” including all of the pain, worry and anxiety that we feel day in and day out, we even find ourselves thinking why bother, why try, nothing ever really changes. I’ve even heard often lately that we shouldn’t bring children into the cycle of hurt in this world. But to go that way is to give into the Karmic belief that nothing will ever change and there is no hope in this life.
Don’t do that, you don’t have to. Listen, our lives are made for eternity. The lives of our children are made for eternity. No matter how long we are given in our earthly life we are made for eternity with our Lord, that is the sign post in the road that Jesus died and rose from the dead to give to us to be received in patient waiting faith. Apart from faith in Jesus we are stuck with the same old same old, dead in sin now, dead in the body someday and dead eternally. But that is not what we were made for and not what our children, our loved ones and the whole world that God so loved is made for, we are made to wait upon God for something new.
While we wait…
In all of our “this has happened before” yesterdays, the hurt of life felt like nothing will ever change. But yesterday Jesus rose from the dead on Easter morning and nothing will ever be the same. Wait on the Lord and He will renew your strength, Jesus got you through yesterday and is bringing you to something new.
In all of our “this has happened before” todays, the hurt of life feels like same ________ (you know what we normally say) different day and nothing will ever change. But today, Jesus lives and reigns eternally and is right here and right now holding your hand and carrying you through. Wait on the Lord and He will renew your strength, Jesus will bring you through today and bring you to something new.
In all of our “this has happened before” tomorrows, the hurt of life sometimes feels like we just don’t want to face another day of it and nothing will ever change. Jesus is right there in your tomorrow and he is bringing all of your tomorrows just like all of creation’s tomorrows to something new. Wait on the Lord and He will renew your strength, Jesus is holding all of your tomorrows and will bring you to something new.
In Jesus alone in the midst of all of our “it’s happened like this before;” yesterdays, todays and tomorrows, He is giving us something new. Hope behind the endless cycle of pain to new life with Him and strength today to carry on in the life He has called us to live right now and a new life eternally.
Wait upon the Lord, you are made for eternity with Jesus, you are made for something new.