A few years ago Pat, Deborah Sue and I were returning from a long and very tiring trip. After thirteen days of living out of suitcases, we were anxious to get home. And as kids are prone to do, every few hours Deborah Sue would ask, “Are we there yet?”
In the struggles and trials of life, with its sadness and unseen, often unexpected difficulties, God’s children often ask the same question: “Are we there yet?” “When will we be home?” “When will this be over?”
The words of Jesus in John 16:33 give hope for all who have asked those questions about their lives on this planet. Jesus said: “These things I have spoken to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
In His Word we have hope. In Jesus we have peace. But in the world we have tribulation. The good news is that even the most severe trials in this world will turn out well because Jesus has overcome the world. Though for now, we long for everything to be well, and for our trials to be over, we are not home yet. We are still in a sin-plagued world.
God’s children through faith in Christ, are citizens of two worlds, of two spheres, two dimensions. They are both citizens of heaven (spiritually) and citizens of this world (physically). Believers in Christ today live in constant tension because they are “in Christ,” yet, at the same time, they are “in the world.” Now, we are in the world for a reason, as Jesus prayed to His Father, “I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world….. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world” (John 17:14-18). For the present, we have dual citizenship, but, some day when we get home to Heaven, our physical and spiritual address will be the same!
In the meantime we are to serve God in this world. God did not leave His children in the world for their benefit, but for His. We must constantly remind ourselves that this world is not our home, but we are merely passing through. Tribulations and trials are the norm here, but not there! That is why Peter wrote, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation” (1 Peter 4:12, 13). By inspiration, Peter wrote that fiery trials, tragedies and tough times were not to be considered “strange,” surprising or novel, for Christ’s followers. Though this is difficult to do, Christians should not be shocked by suffering, for we live in a fallen world where our adversary is “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2).
Peter revealed that trials and tribulations were ultimately to help the Christian develop patience, endurance, faithfulness, purity and Christian character. Trials enable believers to partake in Christ’s sufferings, and will result in “praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:7). Thomas Moore (1779-1852) worded it beautifully when he wrote: “Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.” There is no hurt, deprivation or tribulation we will endure here, but that will be healed in Heaven. If we would cope well with loss and deficiency, we must take the long view of difficult events. Steven Estes spoke truth when he wrote: “Every sorrow we taste will one day prove to the be best possible thing that could have happened. We will thank God endlessly in Heaven for the trials He sent us here. This is not Disneyland—it is truth” (Steven Estes, “When God Weeps,” page 56).
So in the midst of the storm, do not despair! Do not lose hope. Remember, as with Jesus, so with saints, first the cross, then the crown! Do not forget: In the midst of struggles and losses, we are not home yet. Steven Curtis Chapman used that phrase for an inspiring song:
I know there’ll be a moment, I know there’ll be a place
Where we will see our Savior, And fall in His embrace
So let us not grow weary, Or be too content to stay
Cause we are not home yet, We are not home yet
So keep on looking ahead, Let your heart not forget
We are not home yet…Not home yet!
Jesus has prepared a place for every believer, where you will be in heaven, with Him and loved ones gone before; home forever! Jesus promised, “In My Father’s house are many dwellng places…I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:2-3).
We are not home yet, but when Christ returns for His saints, “Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them (believers who have died) in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
We will never again repeat: “Are we there yet?” For we will be Home Forever!