“looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”Hebrews 12:2
When Adam and Eve were in the garden, before they ate from the forbidden tree, everything was dandy. There was no pain, no hurt and no suffering. The garden brought forth fruit for them to eat without toil. The tigers danced, while the rabbits hopped. The lion and the lamb laid down in the shade together, and the Lord Himself walked with Adam and Eve in the cool of the day, enjoying each other and having sweet fellowship. They lived in His joy and in His peace, with want for nothing.
But then, one day, Adam and Eve chose to ignore God’s Word, and chose to listen to Satan. They ate from the tree after the Lord had said, “Do not eat from it, because if you do, you will surely die..” (Gen 2:17). And from the moment their teeth sunk into that fruit, they knew something was wrong. A cold wind blew into the garden, for a moment the sun was hidden behind the clouds, and their skin stood on edge as they realised they were naked, and cold. The lamb ran off into the thicket, and the rabbit sprinted for his hole, while the tiger aggressively roared at the lion. Things were different now, death and suffering had been invited in.
Adam and Eve hid themselves, their shame going before them. When the Lord eventually came, He called out to them, and they came forth, and confessed their sin to Him. The Father then pronounced a curse over them as a consequence of their disobedience. He said to the woman (Gen 3:16), “You will have severe pains in child birth, and your desire will be for your husband”, and to Adam He said (Gen 3:17-19), “Cursed is the ground before you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life until you return to the dust”. Adam and Eve were then banished from the Garden of Eden and went out into the wilderness, where they endured hardship and suffering.
Since then, man has endured hardship and difficulty on earth. But this is not the end of the story.
For a time we will suffer and endure all forms of trials and tribulations, however, before us stands hope and a promise of reconciliation and restoration. We know that our troubles are not to be embraced forever, for He said (Rev 21:4), “I will wipe every tear from your eye”, and (John 14:2) “where I am going, I will prepare a place for you”. He also went on to say (Rev 21:4) that in the New Country there will be no more death, no more mourning, crying or pain, for the old order of things have passed away. Here once more we will walk with the Father in the cool of the day. We will eat freely from the fruit of the Tree of Life. We will drink from the river of the Living Water, and we will see the lion lying down with the lamb under the shade of a fig tree during the heat of the day.
But how do we get to this place of passing from suffering to joy?
We must walk along the narrow path and enter in through the small gate that is Jesus Christ. He is the Restorer, whom the Father sent to make right the fall of Adam and Eve. And Jesus came into life the way we all came, through our mother’s wombs. He grew up and endured every temptation known to mankind. And at the appointed time, He experienced the greatest trial the world has ever seen when He took on death, sin and the cross. There He died, and the earth received His blood, and although it seemed like He was defeated, three days later He rose victorious, and ascended to the Father where He is seated in all glory, honour and praise forever.
Because of this, I say to you – take heart dear brother, and dear sister, though now for a little while you will have to endure all types of hardships and struggles, let joy enter your heart as you eagerly await your inheritance which comes through Christ, and consider Him who has gone before you, because where you are going, He has prepared a place for you.