No More Tears (Revelation 21:4)
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” —Revelation 21:4
In March of 2020, I was on a scheduled trip to Cordoba, Argentina, to meet with a group of pastors and missionaries. We had only just arrived when news broke out about the growing global spread of the Coronavirus. After spending the first day with church planters, Argentina announced a nationwide quarantine and the closing of the country to travelers from the United States. Thankfully, we were able to change our plans and return home the next day.
That trip seems like an eternity ago, but since that day, we’ve experienced the effects of a global pandemic: inconvenience, loss of jobs, illness, masks, online church services, stress, depression, riots, political turmoil, and, as of this month, approximately 265,000 deaths related to COVID-19. The common sentiment is, “When will this end?!” This was also the common sentiment toward the end of the first century when Revelation was written. Revelation 2-3 paints a picture of Christians living in a dark world filled with distraction, temptation, suffering, and the threat of death. The cry in that day was also, “When will this end?” Specifically, it was, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth” (Revelation 6:10)? The answer came back, “rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been” (Revelation 6:11).
Admittedly, our suffering has not been on the level of what our first brothers and sisters experienced, and thankfully so. Still, with all the suffering and evil around us, our cry should be the same—“How much longer, Lord?!” If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that Adam’s sin still affects our world, human rebellion is rampant, and we should long for a better country. This world is not our home. We are only exiles sojourning toward our heavenly dwelling, the celestial city. But we don’t long for our heavenly home just to escape suffering in this world. We long to be home because our God is there (Revelation 21:3). He is our home, and we’re traveling to be with him. Jesus is the way to the Father, and he has shown us the way home—through suffering and death. But death does not have the last word. When Christ returns, and heaven comes down, we will be in the presence of God. Like a good father, our heavenly Father will receive us and “wipe away every tear from our eyes” (Revelation 21:4). What a beautiful picture!
When one of my daughters was hurt and ran into my arms, one of the first things I would do is ask her what happened, where she was hurt, wipe her tears from her eyes, and kiss her. That’s the picture the apostle John paints in Revelation 21:4. Except, it’s not just our Father wiping our tears to send us on our way. It’s the end of suffering because it’s the end of sin. Therefore, the effects of sin are over—“death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” That’s the day we long for. That’s why we cry out, “How much longer, O Lord? When will this end?” Because we know it will end! Just as Christ cried out on the cross, “It is finished!,” so also, he will come again and bring this old age to an end. Lord Jesus, come quickly. And as we wait, give us your grace until the end.
Have you cried out to the Lord, “When will this end?” Where do you turn for hope in those times?
Have you grown so comfortable in this world that you don’t long for your heavenly home? What do you need to do to reorient your perspective toward heaven?
How have you been able to redeem the times to share the good news of Jesus with unbelievers during 2020? If you haven’t, would you commit to telling others about Jesus, pointing to the eternal hope we have in Christ?