One Year Bible
New Testament passage for Sunday, December 16, 2012: Revelation 7:1-17
...for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Revelation 7:17 (NKJV)
There is a mystery in suffering. It is the fiery trial that shall test our faith (I Pet. 4:12). It is the circumstance in which perseverance and character are formed and forged. Suffering is a part of our life in this fallen world. God never promises us the absence of suffering, but rather promises His abundant presence IN THE MIDST of suffering. This is exactly the path that Jesus walked. It is the story of Paul and of countless who have followed Christ fully.
Paul vividly illustrated this in the near-autobiographical description of his life in Christ found in II Corinthians. 8 We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. (II Cor. 4:8-10) In every negative situation, Paul found the presence of God.
The mystery of suffering lies in the fact that God COULD prevent all suffering and difficulty but instead He ALLOWS these things. While they never are a reflection of His perfect will for us, they are a tool in His hand to refine us and bring us into deeper trust in Him. We, along with Paul, may then say, "Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us" (Rom. 8:37).
Unfortunately, many of us spend too much time worrying about "trial avoidance" rather than "trial training." Whole segments of the Church are banking on being raptured out before the "Great Tribulation" comes. I am not prepared here to say when the rapture will take place (pre-trib, mid-trib, or post-trib). I will say that YOUR FAITH MUST BE STRONG ENOUGH TO SHINE NO MATTER WHAT WE MIGHT CALLED UPON TO WALK THROUGH!
Revelation 7 makes it clear that an innumerable host of followers of Jesus who will "come out of the great tribulation" (vs. 14). These are Gentile believers who are "clothed with white robes" (vs. 9) and have been washed by the blood of the Lamb.
They found power in the midst of pressure. They prevailed through the toughest of circumstances. They found the blessing in the midst of a world falling apart. That's why God says He "will wipe away every tear from their eyes." In like fashion, no matter what you face today, He can lead you to a living fountain of water right in the middle of your surroundings. He will dry your tears.