I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth have passed away, and the sea is no more……
I heard a loud voice out of heaven saying, "Behold, God's dwelling is with people, and he will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.
He will wipe away from them every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; neither will there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more. The first things have passed away."
He who sits on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." He said, "Write, for these words of God are faithful and true." Rev 21:1-5
We often hear people say, “if your God is so loving, why did this happen; why is there such evil in the world; why did my child die; why did my dad have to suffer cancer; why was I abused; why, why, why.” These kind of questions can be really hard for us to answer, especially in the raw emotion of someone's real pain and hurt. No one, at that moment of deep suffering and loss, wants our pat answers to the problems of sin in the world. So often, blame is put at God’s feet for the atrocities that happen in the world.
I know that God too weeps over the state of this world, (Jn 11:35/Lk 19:41) because it is so far from His heart of love for those whom He created. Our world of chaos and suffering is so far from His original intent of, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the sky, and over the livestock, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." (Gen 1:26)
So let's look at God's image, to see what He intended for humankind to be.
God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. (Gen 1:31)
I want you to grasp this concept. Behold, it was VERY GOOD! As Jesus taught us, “Even so, every good tree produces good fruit; but the corrupt tree produces evil fruit. A good tree can't produce evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree produce good fruit.” (Matt 7:17-18)
God is ultimately GOOD. There is no darkness in Him, (James 1:17) no evil. Good cannot produce evil, nor can evil produce good. We could say, light overcomes darkness. A beautiful example of this declaration that God is good, came from Jesus in His conversation with the rich, young ruler.
As he was going out into the way, one ran to him, knelt before him, and asked him, "Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may eternal life?" Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good except one-God. You know the commandments: 'Do not murder,' 'Do not commit adultery,' 'Do not steal,' 'Do not give false testimony,' 'Do not defraud,' 'Honour your father and mother.” (Lk 18: 18-20)
These commandments show God's ultimate “golden rule” “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Luke 6:31) love in action towards each other. And His love toward us too.
Jesus is the image of God. (Col 1:15) He came to show us the Father's heart and is a visual aid in the ministry of God's goodness to humankind. And Jesus said, “The thief only comes to steal, kill, and destroy. I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.” (Jn 10:10)
So we see another principle at work here, EVIL. We see Jesus, GOOD, and the thief, Destruction of all kinds. And we see the Father's heart to right that which is wrong, through Jesus, to bring abundant life in restoration and healing.
This brings me back to the first scripture in this blog, God's intention is to bring everything back to His original plan: “Death will be no more; neither will there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more.” Back to, “and, behold, it was very good.”
How is God going to accomplish this? “Behold, I am making all things new.” What a hope we have, for God Himself will dwell with us physically and in us and through us. He will give mankind “new hearts” (Ezekiel 36:26) after His own and without the influence of the evil. The “thief” will no longer be able to have his evil sway on human hearts, for the dominion and overcoming spirit of the goodness of God's heart and His love will rule in our hearts instead.
Talking of dominion, it was always God's desire that we would rule over “flesh” (i.e. birds, fish, every living thing). (Gen 1:28) This dominion was not in a negative form, but as stewards of God's grace for goodness to reign and flourish. I would also like to suggest that He intended us to rule over our own “flesh” and bring our fleshly desires under subjection in love and consideration of others first. Tongue in cheek, I think Jesus called this “dying to self” by taking up our cross to follow Him. Even as Jesus was willing to submit to the Father's plan for the salvation and die for us on that Cross for all of us who had gone astray from God's original plan.
"For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the spring of living waters, and cut them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water. Jer 2:13
When we forsake God, we also forsake His design and purpose in us as we begin to live for no one but our own selfish desires and self preservation. The spring of living water of the goodness, life and love of God that He intended to flow through us to sustain the life and order which He created for us to enjoy, to have fulfilment and to be successful, no longer flows. Metaphorically we become dry, lifeless and struggling in a dog eat dog society. Goodness for others and the world flies out of the window. We can no longer offer His life to others when we are not flowing and living in the water Christ offers to all who want to drink of Him. (Jn 4:4; 7:37)
When the good God gives us new hearts with a new spirit, (Ezekiel 36:26) touched and wholly filled with His love, His nature and desires, and new glorified bodies, the result will be “no mourning, no crying, no pain anymore.” Faith, love and hope, these three abide, but the greatest of these is love (1 Cor 13:13) and the fruit thereof:- Love is patient and is kind; love doesn't envy. Love doesn't brag, is not proud, doesn't behave itself inappropriately, doesn't seek its own way, is not provoked, takes no account of evil; doesn't rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. (1 Cor 13: 4-8)
This can only be accomplished in us through the Spirit of the Living God, the Holy Spirit. Evil is overcome by God's goodness, even in men's hearts.
So back to my original thought of what to offer those suffering and disillusioned with life. Do what God would do LISTEN and offer comfort. Pray for them that the God of comfort would come in and heal the hurt. Pray for the goodness of God to overwhelm them in the midst of their suffering. Pray for hope, that God would restore it back to them, and where you can, help them in practical ways too by doing an act of service in love. Show them you care. Wipe away every tear. Bring God's goodness into an otherwise evil moment.