How different things look from different perspectives! Day-in and day-out, everything seems the same. Yet at different points we look back, and we see that everything has changed.
When I came to my current church where I am associate pastor, Don E. was a pillar of sorts in the church, physically solid and strong--his handshake grip was not for women!--and Head Trustee. Retired, he was often at the church to oversee maintenance and improvement projects. He loved to kid his grandkids, who were in my youth group, and he loved to kid me as well.
But now he's gone. He died Sunday. He disappeared from the church several months ago when he went into a nursing home, against his will, but there was no other choice.
For some time in Bible study the same prayer requests have populated the whiteboard: one couple was looking to sell the farm they had inherited; another couple was agonizing over their son's poor choices and incarceration prospects; one single mother was overwhelmed with the several agonizing circumstances of her life, including a job that sometimes left her physically (literally) beat up. These prayer concerns were on the board every Wednesday night.
But not now. We're on the other side of all three of these things. The farm has been sold. The son has come through his detention, and in the process, he has been born again. The single mother got some training and started a new job last week. The day-in day-out has become what used to be.
Sometimes we hate change, when the good seems to give way to the not-so-good or the downright evil. Sometimes we long for change, for the current evil to be replaced by a hoped-for good. God's work in our character and faith is sometimes slower than we would like. God's work in our circumstances and in response to our prayers can also crawl at the same pace. But then one day we turn around and realize, he's done it! He's helped us conquer this, and he's brought us through that.
The longer I live in this world, the more I long for the next one, the new heavens and the new earth, where the only change that we'll experience will be from the really-good to the even-better.
Sometimes, when life is exceptionally tough, the best one can do is to simply hold on, hold on to the Lord Jesus by faith.
The Wednesday night whiteboard is not blank. We have new things we're praying through, as well as some old ones. But the memory of what is no longer on the whiteboard gives us hope that maybe the current items will one day be erased as well.