Mirando al futuro para soportar el presente

Looking to the future to endure the present

Then those powers, which work for suffering, will have their reward, and day by day will produce Your praise, and my relief; They will build me with care and courage, until I reach heaven and, even more, to You.

— George Herbert, “Affliction IV”

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, because the first heaven and the first earth had ceased to exist, as had the sea. I also saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from heaven from God, prepared like a bride beautifully dressed for her betrothed. I heard a powerful voice coming from the throne and saying: “Here, among human beings, is the abode of God! He will camp among them, and they will be His people; God himself will be with them and will be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death, nor crying, nor lament, nor pain, because the first things have ceased to exist.”

— Revelation 21:1-5

There is nothing more practical for those who suffer than to have hope . The loss of hope is what makes suffering unbearable. And here, at the end of the Bible, is the greatest hope, a material world in which all suffering is gone, in which every tear will be wiped from our eyes. This is a living and transformative hope.

Who was John writing to in the book of Revelation? I was writing to people who were suffering terrible things. Verse 4 shows us the list. He was writing to people who were experiencing afflictions, danger of death, crying and pain. This book was written near the end of the first century, when the Roman emperor Domitian was carrying out large-scale persecutions of Christians. Some had their homes taken away and looted, and others were sent into the arena to be torn apart by wild beasts while the public watched. Others were impaled on poles, covered with tar and, while still alive, set on fire. That's what the readers of this book were facing.

And what did Juan give them so they could face all this? John reminded them of the greatest hope of all: the arrival of a new heaven and a new earth. That was what gave them the chance to face it, and history confirms that it worked . We know that the first Christians assumed their suffering with great serenity and peace, that they sang hymns while the beasts tore them apart and that they forgave their executioners. This is why the more they killed them, the more the Christian movement grew. Because? Because when people saw them die that way, they said: “These people have something.” Well, Do you know what they had? They had this: a living hope.

Human beings are creatures designed for hope. The way you live now is completely controlled by what you believe about your future . I was reading a story a few years ago about two men who were captured and thrown into a dungeon. Just before going to prison, one of the men discovered that his wife and son were dead, and the other found out that his wife and son were alive and waiting for him. In the early years of his imprisonment, the first man became consumed with sadness and eventually died. But the other man held on, stayed strong, and came out ten years later. Note that these two men experienced the same circumstances but responded differently because, although they experienced the same present, they had their minds set on different futures. The future was what determined how they handled the present.

Juan was right, then, to help suffering people by giving them hope. Do you think that when you die you will just rot away? Do you think life in this world is all the happiness you will ever get? Do you think that one day the sun will die, that all human civilization will become extinct and that no one will remember anything that was ever done? That's one way to imagine your future. But here's another one. Do you believe in “a new heaven and a new earth”? Do you believe that all evil and injustice will be judged on the day of judgment? Do you believe you are headed toward a future of eternal joy? Those are two completely different futures, and What you believe will determine the way you are going to handle your prisons, your suffering.


This article was adapted from a portion of the book Walking with God through pain and suffering , published by Poiema Publications . You can download a free sample by visiting this link .

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