“Years ago I had a terrible nightmare. In my nightmare, every
member of my family was killed in terrible fashion. I woke up at 3
a.m., panting from the nightmare. It was if I had lost my family and
awakened to discover I had them back. I wanted to wake them all
up and hug them. I loved them before the nightmare, but not like I
did after the nightmare.
Here’s the point. The joy of finding them wasn’t a joy in spite of
the nightmare but a joy enhanced by the nightmare.
Because of the nightmare, my joy was intensified. The nightmare
was taken up into the joy of having them back. The nightmare
actually punctuated my joy.
If heaven is a compensation for all the stuff we wanted that we
never had, that is one thing. But if the new heaven and new earth
is our hope—and it is—it will make everything horrible we’ve
experienced nothing but a nightmare.
And as a nightmare, it will
infinitely, correspondingly increase our future joy and glory in a way
it wouldn’t have been increased if we’d never suffered.
That is the ultimate defeat of evil.
To say that our suffering is an illusion or to say we will be compensated for our suffering is one
But to say that the suffering we experience now will one day
be a servant of our joy does not just compensate for it, it undoes it.
“Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an
eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” There has never been an
understanding of suffering that was more hopeful or encouraging.
But to understand it, you have to “fix your eyes on it.”
That’s a discipline.
Think about it until it pulverizes your discouragement.
Let the glory of it hit you.
Don’t just accept suffering—because God doesn’t want it.
Don’t just avoid suffering—because God can use it.
Don’t just embrace suffering—because it is evil.
Instead, enjoy the hope that suffering is going to be engulfed,
The evil that hurts us now will be the eventual servant
of our joy and glory eternally. ”
From “Be Still My Soul” p. 21-22 Adapted from “Christian Hope and Suffering,” a sermon by Tim Keller given at
Redeemer Presbyterian Church, May 16, 2004