Today, at services, the person who gave the sermonette spoke about the state of the world at the time of Jesus’ return, with the focus being on the need to give comfort and encouragement to those who have been broken by their experiences in the world. In listening to the fellow, I was struck rather deeply by the second example he spoke about, because in many ways I could see that scrawny and freckled boy with the deep-set eyes of having experienced unspeakable horrors as a young man not unlike myself. While I sat with tears in my eyes, pondering about the many thousands or millions of people who live now, and who will live at the beginning of the millennial age, who will be in need of comfort. Yet there is a paradox here, as in order to comfort others well, we need in ourselves and in our own lives the experience of great discomfort.
There is something particularly tragic and ironic about this, and even poignant. It is our suffering that allows us to empathize with others, to stand with them in their own suffering. In order to help fix the wounds of the people of this broken world, we must know what it is like to be broken. In order to comfort the affliction, we need to know what it is like to suffer affliction. Those who have experienced the comfort of God, whether in the still small moments of life or through the encouragement and love of others, are in the position to comfort others. Ultimately, the task of believers at the beginning of the Millennial age will not be a glorious task of ruling, but rather the task of dealing with a world which has been broken because of sin and rebelliousness, but whose brokenness will finally allow for healing and restoration.
It is easy to be seduced by visions of maps of cities and towns that one expects to rule over, but it is a more difficult task to realize the sort of people that we will be ruling will be people in the grips of trauma and loss and suffering. I know such experiences well, and I am aware that I am probably not the easiest person to govern. I do not think that governing cities of people like me would be an enjoyable task if one’s goal was to be somebody important and to be flattered or find government an easy task at getting the love and respect that one needs from life. Rather, if we are to seek such leadership, we are to do so knowing that the world we will be dealing with will be a world that needs comfort and care. Can we give that care? Can we show love and respect to those who are too frightened to even speak to us because they are afraid that we are there to hurt them? This is not an easy thing to do at all, and to do it over and over again can be a difficult task.
Yet we are not looking for ease when we enter God’s Kingdom. God calls the sick because He wants to heal them; He calls the broken because He wants to put them back together, sometimes for the first time; God calls those things which are despised so that He can show love for those whom the world thinks to be unlovable; He calls the weak because He wants to make them strong; He calls the outcast and the vagabond because He wants to give them a home; He calls the abused and the ridiculed because He wants to give them honor and glory. For what God does to the least of us is what God wishes to do for the whole world, if only they would turn from their wicked ways and seek Him. Yet people cannot and will not seek Him until they see that their own ways are not right, for those who stubbornly insist that everything is alright will not be willing to humble themselves to admit that they cannot fix themselves or their lives or their families or their world on their own. And to make things right is a task that is extremely difficult, but also worth it, just as it will be worth all of our own tears and heartache in helping to provide healing and mercy to a world in need of comfort, even more so than it is in need already.