Thinking for a moment, can you remember a season in your life when you were stressed: with a set of demands exceeding what you considered to be your limits; or maybe overwhelming financial challenges whether of your making or imposed on you; a long, drawn-out personal health crisis or one impacting a loved one; maybe desires that were systematically denied or frustrated? What has been your ‘go to’ in those times of throttled progress, threatening diagnoses, cash flow’s red ink, the sensation of losing ground despite gargantuan personal effort? Anger? Depression? Hyperactivity? Slothful denial? Escapes into fantasy? Addictions? Are you able to recognize your ‘go to’? Do you see a pattern playing out during those times? Have you ever paid painful0 consequences for your reactions? Questions like these help initiate a healthy process for navigating life’s inevitable quirks and glitches and setbacks.
As the disciples were living through those early days with Jesus following the Resurrection, I’m pretty sure they’d have considered themselves to be in a season of painful stretching. One discussion they landed on would surely have been along the lines of what Matthew recorded for us in Chapter 19 of his Gospel account. It’s where Jesus had just used the image of a camel fitting through the eye of a needle to illustrate the degree of difficulty for a rich man to enter the Kingdom. This, understandably, flummoxed them, prompting them to ask, somewhat nervously, who, then, could ever be saved (plus, they would have been wondering about their own salvation). Jesus’ chose to reply with a glorious, magnanimous promise of delayed gratification. “I tell you this. When creation is consummated and all things are renewed, when the Son of Man sits on His throne in glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on thrones. There will be twelve thrones, and you will sit and judge the twelve tribes of Israel. You who have left your house and your fields, or your brothers and sisters, or your father and mother, or even your children in order to follow Me, at that time when all is renewed, you will receive so much more: you will receive 100 times what you gave up. You will inherit eternal life. Many of those who are the first will be last, and those who are the last will be first.” Matthew 19:28-30, VOICE. If I’d been one of those men, I think I would have thought, ‘Wow! That’s great, but…’ The promise is almost too stunning to take in. It’s a huge leap to begin to imagine what it will be like. The ‘delay’ part of the promise, though, is the proverbial fly in the ointment. Waiting is mostly an under-appreciated gift, and yet it’s in the waiting that hope, delicious hope, is stirred and springs to life in us. And hope, according to Scripture, does not disappoint. So, like the original twelve, we are inheritors of a great promise: eternal life, a one hundredfold return on our ‘investments,’ all eternity with Jesus, our Savior, our Messiah, our Brother. I think that’s worth the wait. PD