This week we continue our look at Revelation as consider how a community of faith endure’s persecution, suffering and grief. We find that the central message in Revelation remains the same: Offer God worship.
Text: Revelation 7: 9-17
Worship the Lamb
One of the most difficult things to deal with in life is grief. As a society, even as a church, we don’t know how to deal with grief, despair, loneliness, suffering and death. As a people we are not good at it. We don’t know what words to say to ‘make everything alright’. We have all been to our fair share of funerals and I tell you some of the most unhelpful things I’ve ever heard have been said at those occasions. We try to console, but we often miss the mark. While we may not cause further hurt our efforts to ease suffering often fall short.
This extends people we might meet at work, a neighbour or even in our own families. If we are honest we would probably all just like to avoid the individual or situation because we feel woefully unqualified. How are we supposed to deal with the grief of another individual when often we are carrying around our own hidden burdens and hurts.
The thought of caring for an individual, of wiping away their tears overwhelms us. We don’t know how we might do it, never mind wiping away the tears from every eye.
In his letter to those seven churches John knows the difficulty they are experiencing. Revelation is a book meant to encourage them and to comfort them. A reminder that the trials and persecutions they are experiencing are temporary because God has something more planned for them.
John describes a vision for those early Christians and it is a vision which I believe is important for us to experience as well. It is a vision where every nation on earth is standing before God and worshipping. The crowd is so vast that it is beyond counting. John reminds his readers that the central truth, the most important act we can take is to join in and worship God.
Those early Christians they are experiencing terrible persecution. To be found out as a follower of Christ is to risk death. However, they trust in God’s providence in the promise that is found in Christ’s resurrection. John’s words in Revelation may not be as poetic as Psalm 23, but the vision he shares holds the same message. God will care for you, God loves you, God will protect you and at the end of the day you will be with God.
In Revelation we read, “They will hunger no more, and thirst no more; the sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat; for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd and he will guide them to springs of the water of life…” That is God’s promise to us. That God will protect us, never to hunger or thirst, never to be burnt by scorching heat. We will be guided to springs of life giving water. Jesus is the source of this water, for when we drink from what he offers we will never be thirsty again.
What is it that Jesus said to the women by the well? “All who drink from this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty” (John 4: 1-42).
Trusting in God’s promises we are able to provide comfort. To sit with those struggling with grief, anxiety and depression. To provide care and love. Do not ever dismiss the ministry of presence. What simple sitting with another person in silence can provide. And never think that it is awkward as the Holy Spirit is there ministering to both of you.
God is the Lord of all creation. The same God who stilled the waters, is the same God who will wipe away every tear from your eyes. For we follow and trust in the one who was, who is and who is yet to come. The Almighty. Amen.