When I meet missionaries who have spent their lives sharing the gospel in hostile regions of the world, I am struck by their enthusiasm and sense of purpose. It is true they are susceptible to seasons of discouragement, and sometimes depression. They are also often targets of unwarranted harassment and open persecution. But even when I encounter these front-line warriors at their worst, their eyes light up when they tell me how God has worked in their circumstances. It seems they are blessed and forever blessed.
The loss of loved ones to death is the most difficult separation most of us will face, and I have walked with many through its barren desert. We have talked about many things: the meaning of life, abandonment, the existence of evil, and the nature of faith. I have seen the demons of anger, regret, guilt and bitterness. In some ways, none of us ever completely heal from such losses, but we can find peace in them as we draw on God’s grace and infinite wisdom. Sadly, I have known those who never find this peace and instead turn their back on God. I understand their disappointment, yet their response breaks me. If only they would run into the arms of their Creator He would carry their pain. God has never promised He will make life pain-free, but as our divine Shepherd He has proven He will direct and comfort us with His “rod and staff.” I don’t fully understand the constitution of those who have been through grief’s deepest pit and emerged with their souls intact. I know they are forever changed by their nightmarish journey. Still, in the midst of everything they seem to be blessed and forever blessed.
To be blessed is to find ourselves in greater harmony with the heart of God through life’s experience. To be forever blessed is to be confident God hasn’t finished His work in us, and will continue to lead us in His truth until we reach our final rest. When we finally learn to live in the pure presence of the 100% Jesus and His unpolluted vision of the Father’s will, we find the quiet assurance of faith’s certainties.
Revelation 20:6 is best known for its “thousand years” reference and the volumes that have been written about it in an effort to define the biblical millennium. This is an important subject to be sure, but perhaps not as important as the promises found in the other portions of the verse: “Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ.” We are made pure, and are in the process of becoming pure. In the meantime, we do not fear death because we have experienced the power of our risen Lord and His indwelling Spirit.
We are heirs, faithfully administrating His grace to a lost world. This brings us full circle to our motive for seeking an organic faith in the first place. We want to see Jesus clearly, but if we know Him it is more critical that He be seen clearly in us. It may be a cliché to say we are “blessed to be a blessing”, but if this were not the case, then why else would Jesus leave us here in this difficult place as we wait for His appearing?