Ephesians 1:18-20 – I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms. (NIV)
A twelve-year-old boy I will call Joey was transferred into our school able to read only a dozen or so words. His speech and language were like that of a much younger child.
From an early age, this red-blond lad had suffered serious ear infections that had left him hearing quite poorly. Then, an operation on one ear and the subsequent wearing of a hearing aid improved his hearing.
Through the years when Joey had been hearing so little, he had developed an "Ah, forget it" attitude. When I first wanted Joey to practice saying correctly words he mispronounced, he would ask, "Wy cah I du it ike I ah-ways du?" When I had him work on reading skills he would moan, "Ah du I haf tu?"
Then I tried handcrafts with Joey as diversion and as reward after learning tasks that were hard for him. And he loved making things! His fingers were dexterous.
In his enthusiasm, he became happier, and he began to remember more. When he had completed two pre-primers, I said, "If you read the third before Easter, we'll do a model airplane." We did it. He was thrilled!
Then Joey launched into a hard-backed reader, and he made a trivet for his mother's teapot, planted seeds, and constructed a kite that really flew.
It's like this for all of us. If we have something pleasant ahead of us, toward which we can move with enthusiasm, the drudgery of a difficult task in the present can be swallowed up in joy that is set before us.
It was like this for Jesus, "who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:2b NIV).
God chose that this heavenly joy of Jesus would be shown to us and shared with us, for: "God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith" (Ephesians 2:6-8a NIV).
Though Jesus warns, "In this world you will have trouble," he adds, "But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33b NIV). In the Beatitudes, we read of Jesus saying, "Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven" (Luke 6:22-23a NIV).
Throughout life, let us maintain the hope of heaven, for it will make all the difference in the world.
Prayer: Lord, cause us to cherish the joyful hope of heaven always. May it sustain us and overflow to others on earth until we live with You through the coming ages. Thank You for Your "incomparably great power for us who believe." Amen.