On Monday, I received a text that one of the longtime members of the church — a good bit younger than I am — is in the hospital with stage four cancer and may not have long to live. And so I called Jason Meyer and said, “Can I go visit?” It’s the way our covenant works here. He never says no, but I clear it, and he said to go. And I drove down to the hospital and parked where I’ve always parked for 38 years. I know secret parking places.
I walked into oncology, and when the nurses came out of her room, I walked in. She smiled real big, and I sat down. Do you know what we did for fifteen minutes? We boasted in the hope of the glory of God.
“The key to steady-state joy is hope in the glory of God.”
We’re not pulling any punches here. She’s going to die. I’m going to die. You’re sick. I might be sick. No games here. Let’s get ready. Let’s talk about it. Let’s enjoy this. Let’s boast in this. And I looked her right in the eye and said, “God has not appointed you for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for you so that whether you wake or sleep you might live with him,” who is the glory of God (1 Thessalonians 5:9–10).
Whether you are preparing for pastoral ministry or not, you’re going to get to do this someday. Don’t run away from it. Bring it on. Nothing is more sweet, precious, deep, awesome than to stand beside a person who, in a matter of weeks, will be in the presence of Jesus, and exult together in the hope of the glory of God.
You’re not called to periodic joy. You’re called to perpetual joy — “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (2 Corinthians 6:10). And I’m arguing that the key to that is hope. The key to steady-state joy in and through cancer, and in through the flooding of your house in North Carolina, and in and through every manner of suffering is hope in the glory of God.
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven” (Matthew 5:11–12). That’s the only way. You have to be heavenly minded. You have to love the glory of God coming to you in a matter of weeks or years more than you love everything in this world — more than you love getting A’s on tests, or getting married, or being healthy.
Hope in the glory of God is the key to loving and feeling compassion for people, even when it may cost you your life. Hebrews 10:34: “You had compassion on those in prison.” Where’d that come from? “You had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property.” You didn’t just endure the plundering of your property.
You joyfully accepted the plundering of your property because you’ve been identified with those rascal Christians who are in prison. How did you do that? How do you get joy while they are burning your house down? “Since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one.” Infinitely better. Infinitely lasting. The all-satisfying glory of God.
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