This is Part 2 of 2 parts answering the question, “Will Restoration Happen in the Future from the Suffering God Allows?” in the larger question, “Why does a loving God allow suffering?”
Restoration Will Be Our Reality
Although the timing of death is unknown to us, it is a reality. While it grieves us to think about our own death, let alone deal with the loss of loved ones – especially those who are already suffering. But for those who have trusted in the Lord Jesus as Savior, there will be a restoration to the Lord in eternity. That restoration is a return to sinless perfection and spiritual intimacy with Him that existed in the Garden of Eden between Adam and the Lord. We will be free from the presence of sin and all of its horrible consequences.
That is the time when every tear will be wiped away, “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” (Rev. 21:4 NKJ) Hence, you may not know the length of your suffering, let alone how long the Lord will keep you alive in this earthly life – but you can choose to entrust yourselves to Him who is sovereign, holy and wise. Meanwhile, there are several things you can put into practice.
First, put the Lord Jesus in the “forefront” of your hearts. That means to fix your eyes on Him, “…looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.” (Heb. 12:2 NKJ) Consider Him in your thoughts and decisions. Peter describes it as a process of setting Him apart in your concentration, so that He is a part of every thought, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” (1 Pet. 3:15 NKJ) Your hope of total transformation and restoration is coming!
Secondly, seek sanctification for your own lives while living here on earth. Sanctify means to “set apart.” In other words, consider what Jesus said, “Therefore do not be like them.” (Matt. 6:8 NKJ) That doesn’t mean being “weird” or obviously different from society in a negative way, but to be IN the world, without being OF the world. Paul affirmed this concept of setting yourself apart from the world, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality.” (1 Thes. 4:3 NKJ) Your preparation in the present will mean greater glory for the future!
Thirdly, exhort one another to love and to good works. The Lord Jesus has already won the war, so we fight from His victory on the cross to “rally the troops” (other Christians) to serve Him. This is not merely getting together with other Christians, or even having fellowship! The writer of the book of Hebrews admonished his audience, “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works.” (Heb 10:24 NKJ) This means sharing with others what God has done in your life. This is encouraging others to pick up the banner to serve Christ. This means helping them think through the roadblocks they might face. This means reminding them that there is little time left to serve the Lord before His return and we need to work while there is still time.
Fourthly, come alongside those who may be suffering beyond what they are able to handle themselves. There are people who are strong in their faith and those who are weak, and even some of the strong are disorderly and rebellious at times. Hence, it’s important to practice discernment with every person regarding what will edify and give them grace. Paul describes four types of Christians, “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.” (1 Thes. 5:14 NKJ) Be patient with all. It seems that there are some who complain about everything. Be patient and encourage them because the transformation and restoration are coming! Provide comfort and good encouragement, looking for opportunities for them to serve as they are able.
Fifthly, be willing to shepherd people like the Lord did. In the same way that He is the good Shepherd who leads us beside still waters and restores our soul, so we ought to come alongside others to be the hands and feet of the Lord to guide them,
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. 3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. (Ps. 23:1-3 NKJ)
The shepherd sees the helplessness and stubbornness of the sheep and gently comes alongside to help it out of its misery and over to lush green pastures where it can be restored for the next day of opportunity.
Restoration to the “pre-fall state” is coming; we just don’t know when! The glory of a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ is that you can be restored in your soul now and enjoy His presence during your suffering. If you respond to the Lord in the midst of your troubles, you can become a refreshment to those who are also struggling and trying to find their way to fresh, pure water and rest.
1) When you are going through suffering do you normally think of complete restoration to God in eternity, or just being done with the suffering? What percentage of people do you suppose think that way?
2) Why is hope such an important element in people’s lives?
3) What are many things that hinder people from having hope?
4) What do you do when you are discouraged from suffering in order to build up your hope?
5) How would you disciple another person to increase his faith in the area of hope?