I love reading a series called Elephant and Piggie with my kids. In fact, one of the things I’m least looking forward to when they get older is them not wanting to read these books anymore. One of the my favorites to read with the kids (in part because it’s a good reminder for me) is one called Waiting is Not Easy! The story goes like this:
Piggie has something special she wants to show Gerald. But he can’t see it right away. He has to wait.
There’s a great deal of sighing and moaning and flopping and whatnot from Gerald, because waiting is not easy. But Piggie encourages him to stick with it. After waiting the whole day, he finally gives up. “It’s getting dark, we’ve waited too long!” he says.
Then Piggie tells him to look at the sky. He sees all the stars and it’s beautiful. And he says, “Wow, that was worth the wait.”
One of the things I’m reminded of when I read this story is the end of the Bible, and the vision of a new creation we see in Revelation: One where sickness and sadness are no more. Where there is no more death, no more tears, no more hunger or fear. There is joy and life everlasting, with our Lord Jesus ruling and reigning forevermore.
We desperately need this to keep us going as believers. If our hope were in some ethereal, vague or obscure better tomorrow, I really don’t know how any of us would get out of bed in the morning. Or look at the insane evils committed in this world and not become bitter and jaded. To become weary of doing good because, what’s the point, right?
Yet, when we read letters like 2 Thessalonians, written by the apostle Paul to a group of believers who were being lured into despair by false teachers claiming Jesus had already come, we see why we need this promise and the clarity the Bible gives. No one knows when Jesus will return except God the Father—not even Jesus himself. We aren’t to go about trying to discern when it will happen. We aren’t to look at the Bible for codes or evidence to add to a chart. Any time an individual proclaiming they know what only God the Father knows, they’re wrong.
Always and forever.
The Bible doesn’t tell us about what’s to come so we can try to figure out what we’ve already been told we can’t know. Instead, these passage exist to give us confidence and courage—to give us hope—while we wait for that day to come. When we see babies murdered for the sake of convenience and a national leader thanking God for the organization responsible for millions of those deaths. When terrorists behead Christians for refusing to recant of their testimony. When otherwise sane individuals thank Jesus for rich dudes who build a political campaign playing on nothing but people’s frustration, racism and hate.
I don’t know about you, but I need the end of the story to keep me from running off and hunkering in a bunker somewhere. I need the promise of the new creation so I can keep pressing on in the call to make disciples and pursue a life of holiness. I need the promise because I want to live looking forward to that day, not to another day of whatever darkness the world has to offer us. I need it so that I might “not grow weary in doing good” (2 Thessalonians 3:13).
That’s why God wants us to know the end of the story. And it’s really great news.