Let us pray: Dear Savior, how we long to have a life without sorrow and pain! How we long for the joys of heaven where we will be with You in pure happiness and joy! Today remind us that such a life awaits all who confess You with their lips and embrace You with their hearts! Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, OUR LOVING LORD!
TEXT: Isaiah 65: 17-25
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
Do you know what my most memorable moments in the ministry have been? No, they are not Easter services, or anniversary celebrations. They have been funerals. I have been most deeply touched and deeply moved at various funerals I’ve conducted for your loved ones. For during those times of human grief I’ve watched your faces and seen happy countenances contort in grief and sorrow. I’ve seen handsome men and beautiful women reveal the pain of their hearts on their faces. And I have always been very thankful that I was there to comfort you with God’s Word of life amid death and despair.
Sorrow is a part of life on planet earth. It is inescapable. I’ve seen you sorrow and heard your anguish as you have faced the loss of loved ones, bad news from the doctors, lives turned topsy-turvey by job upheavals, and children that disappoint. The old adage that: “life isn’t easy,” is certainly true. And the emotional response that such troubles elicit in us is clearly revealed on the tapestry of each of your faces.
However, as I said earlier, I’ve always been grateful that I had something to give you during those times, something to offer beyond mere pious platitudes. That being God’s Word of life! Truth! Joy! And heaven! Today is Saint’s Triumphant Sunday. The day when we recall our beloved saints who now reside with Christ in glory. And since that word “saint” means “holy one;” and since Christ has made you holy through His blood and righteousness, you’re included in today’s celebration. With that in mind, I’m glad you’ve come to God’s house, His Church, which is:
When Isaiah penned the words of our text, when God spoke to His people through Isaiah, God’s people and the nation they inhabited were undergoing great upheaval. And sorrow abounded. The King was a greedy, arrogant, evil man who had turned his back on God. Worship had become a forgotten dream from former times. Honesty and integrity were throw-away words—not a living reality. Disease and poverty afflicted most and they were clueless as to how to escape it. The “haves” lived in their own fantasy world which soon would come to a crashing conclusion. The “have nots” lived without any hope which would play itself out very soon as the nation collapsed and the people were carted off into slavery and exile. Yet, amid all this gloom and doom, God gave His people, His children, hope and comfort. He reminded them of the No Sorrow Zone!
“Behold, I will create a new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy. I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and crying will be heard in it no more.”
Of course, God is talking about judgment day and the saints triumphal entry into glory, into heaven. He’s speaking of the city of God, the Church in heaven, where happiness will reign without anything to dampen it. He’s talking about when the love of Christ—free and without any cost to us—will be handed out to all who have humbled themselves before His almighty hand.
Right now you and I live at the apex of human achievement in the most prosperous country the world has ever known. We have more conveniences and more luxury than any previous generation thought possible. To them, if they could come back to life right now, they would think this is heaven on earth. But, of course, it’s not. And we all know that. Infants die—35 million in America via abortion over the past 30 odd years. Cancer strikes along with heart disease and stroke. I read once that 90% of all your medical costs will be run up during the final 6 weeks of your life. Think of that! We bankrupt ourselves to prolong a life riddled with pain and suffering. And why is that? Because death is so final, inescapable, and scary to most. All this might prompt you to say: “Well, I guess the jokes on us! If this is all there is to life, what’s the point? We’re hopeless and helpless.” Ah, but we’re not! For as Christians we are card-carrying members of the No Sorrow Zone! For Christ, the Son of God carried our sorrows for us and in Him they died! Yes, they died on His cross and were replaced by joy and hope by His rising from the grave in our place.
The saints in heaven have reached the final pinnacle of their existence. They now bask in the ever-present reality of the No Sorrow Zone. Meanwhile, you and I, the saints on earth must cling to its promise and await its fulfillment in our lives. But as we await it, we need to keep in mind the picture of glory that God paints for us.
“Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years; he who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere youth…They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit. No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat. For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people; my chosen ones will long enjoy the works of their hands. They will not toil in vain or bear children doomed to misfortune; for they will be a people blessed by the Lord, they and their descendants with them.”
The point is clear: in heaven we will receive the best of the best without any sorrow to dim our joy!
Obviously, such a life will be 180 degrees removed from what we face right here right now. And to reiterate just how different the reality of heaven is and the mindset of Christians who wait for it to come really is, God gives us another word picture to ponder. “Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.—(No waiting, no hoping, no longing for the future.) The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, but dust will be the serpent’s food. (Again, peace, true peace is to be found only in Christ and the reality that He brings.) They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,’ says the Lord.”
Those words speak to the soul because God who created the soul, our souls, spoke them. They are really a mirror of St. Paul’s famous expression: “to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Since this reality awaits each of us who trust in the Savior, where is sorrow? Where is grief? Where is soul-scorching pain? Ah, it is gone. He has removed it with His blood given and shed for you for the wiping out of all your sins. So, take comfort, my friends. Take the eternal comfort of knowing beyond any doubt that through Him you live in the no sorrow zone! Amen