“…when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away” (1 Corinthians 13:10).
Another year is passing away. Thank God. Not only for the massive amounts of unquantifiable grace we have received from him, but also because we are one year closer to the passing away of this partial age and all of its incumbent sorrow and weariness.
“When the perfect comes.” Those inspired words stir up deep longings for a time we have never known and yet desperately want.
Paul may have been talking about spiritual gifts when he used that phrase in 1 Corinthians 13, but we know because of Romans Eight that “the partial” means so much more. Right now even the best things are not what they should be. And so much goes so very wrong. In this partial age, our bodies, our loved ones, our careers, our creations, our investments, and our plans are all subject to the forces of futility (Romans 8:20). This age is marked more by suffering (8:18), longing (8:19), groaning (8:23), and hope (8:24) than by fulfillment.
So at year’s end, especially if what we feel at its passing is another disappointment, we must remind each other that the partial, this age that is all that we’ve ever known, is passing away and the perfect is coming.
To all you road-weary travelers who have found that the way that leads to life (Matthew 7:14) is harder than you ever imagined, the perfect day of rest is coming (Matthew 11:28).
To all you who find yourself at the end of this year poor in spirit (Matthew 5:3), humbled, desolate, and in desperate need of what only God can provide, the perfect day of the all-abundant kingdom is coming.
To all you who are mourning the loss of a precious one (Matthew 5:4) and finding it hard to press on under the heavy cloak of sorrow, the perfect day of death’s death (1 Corinthians 15:26) is coming.
To all of you who are growing tired in the relentless struggle to hold back the flood of unrighteousness, both from within and without, and who long deeply for a time when all is made right (Matthew 5:6), the perfect day of your satisfaction is coming.
To all of you who have been injured by the maliciousness of another and have responded with a tear-filled mercy (Matthew 5:7), the perfect day of restoration is coming.
To all of you whose soft heart (Matthew 5:8) is tormented over the sin-hardened, sin-infected world around you, the perfectly pure day is coming when you will see what your soul most longs for.
To all of you peacemakers who are blessed of God (Matthew 5:9) and yet find this blessed work heartbreaking, misunderstood, and under appreciated, the perfect day of reconciliation is coming.
To all of you who find yourselves in a disorienting darkness that feels unbearable and wonder if God has abandoned you (Psalm 88:14), the perfect day is coming when the Light, in whom there is no darkness (1 John 1:5), will shine upon you (Numbers 6:25).
And to all of you who increasingly love and long for Jesus’ appearing (2 Timothy 4:8), who have an inconsolable homesickness for a country far better than any that exists here (Hebrews 11:16), your perfect home, a home prepared especially for you (John 14:2), is coming.
When the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. The promised “soon” (Revelation 22:20) is getting sooner. Let us keep encouraging one another with these words (1 Thessalonians 4:18). Let us hold fast to the hope set before us (Hebrews 6:18). And let us press on to know the Lord (Hosea 6:3).
And may the Lord cause these words to come true: next year in Jerusalem!