The other day I walked out from work, relieved to be finished with another twelve-hour shift. It seemed that I could still hear alarms ringing in my head, and the commotion and strain of a busy day seemed to be infused into my tired brain and body. Then, as I emerged from the building, my eyes fell on the flowering trees that grow by the sidewalk. Their delicate beauty was exquisite and lavish. My eyes traveled to the silhouette of the giant evergreen trees on the other side of the parking lots, outlined against a muted evening sky. A gust of wind wafted a sweet smelling kiss to my face, and suddenly, twelve hours of annoying alarms, bad smells, frustrations, perplexities, and trying to keep up with the clock, seemed but a faded memory. The beauty of the evening surrounded me and brought rest to all my senses.
How often this is so! A difficult day is eclipsed by the joy of a couple hours spent with a good friend. Memories of a less than delicious meal swirl down the drain with the dishwater, when we take the first spoonful of dessert. The pain and exhaustion of a day of strenuous labor is transformed into only satisfied weariness by a refreshing shower.
Of course, it works the other way too. There are days that seem perfect until some shock or keen disappointment comes at the end, and the knot in the pit of your stomach tells you that none of the previous pleasures can make up for this pain. The fun of a vacation is ruined by the memory of one heated argument.
The apostle Paul wrote in Romans 8, "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us." And again in 2 Corinthians 4:17, "For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory, far beyond all comparison." Or, as the hymn writer said,
"One glimpse of His dear Face,
All sorrows will erase;
So bravely run the race,
'till we see Christ!"
Somehow that perspective makes twelve hours of stress and strain--or even eighty years of life in an imperfect world--seem awfully trivial!
But what of those who choose to reject God's offer of forgiveness through Jesus Christ? What will there be to comfort them throughout an eternity--endless millions of years--of anguish in hell? Only seventy or eighty years during which they got to do their own thing, a little fun mixed with a lot of sorrow--and the knowledge that they could have been enjoying the eternity of delight that God had prepared for them, if only they had taken the gift.