Proverbs 22:4 “The reward for humility and fearing the LORD is riches and honor and life.”
Hebrews 11:6 “Now without faith it is impossible to please him, for the one who approaches God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.“
2 Corinthians 4:17 “For our momentary, light suffering is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison.”
Growing up, I recall being struck by a song Billy Joel wrote, “Only the Good Die Young”. At the time, I was an unbeliever, not really aware I was an unbeliever. I thought everyone was a Christian. The lyrics affected me – my view of Christianity was that it was religious and boring. You know, the required attendance in church a couple of times a year that you yawn your way through. I believe this false message about Christianity is prolific and espoused not just by the world, but by Christians themselves who do not even recognize they have been duped.
Satan is cunning – if he can steal our joy by introducing hardship or sin into our lives, maybe, just maybe, he can convince us that walking with God is not worth it. Maybe He can twist our understanding of God enough that we perceive Him as too hard to please and remain far off. But the truth about God I daresay surprises many Christians, as well. God is not a joy killer. In fact, He delights to reward the very ones who were once His enemies. The problem with us is we want immediate praise or award and often are met with more trials. Hardly seems like thanks for what we perceive as good behavior in our walk with God. Unless our perspective is changed and we see the spiritual reality of God’s promises. But those trials, perceived as unkind by a God who perhaps has forgotten us (injected lie from the enemy), serve to test and grow our faith, demonstrate His kindness, enablement and provision during those trials and our willingness to wait upon Him. His timing is perfect and His reward is worth the wait.
The most impactful sermon I have ever heard on this subject was by John Piper and it still affects me today. He challenged us to contemplate the superior pleasure of the rewards God has for us, versus the temporary gain we think we have from the world. Through some of the greatest seasons of adversity in my life, I have had the sweetest joy in my walk with God. One verse that still makes me weep to think upon it is from Psalm 27:13: “Where would I be if I did not believe I would experience the LORD’s favor in the land of the living?” His goodness, His peace, far exceeds any joy this world offers. There is no comparison. Focusing on future rewards God promises that I cannot fully comprehend, I am blown away that such mercy and kindness should be given to man. God chooses to reward the violator, when He paid for the violation.
But sometimes it can be difficult to be so positive about the future when the present is so very painful. That is when fellowship with God is so very precious and our eternal lenses help us to gain perspective that this life truly is temporary. The world does not understand why we praise God in the midst of our pain. Suffering will end – what a glorious day! Every tear will be wiped dry! Our mindset is changed when we begin to understand that God is our reward. We can still delight when we think of the future glory we will have in Him – no more tears, no more pain, walking by the crystal lake on the way to our mansions in heaven – wow. Ironically, If it had not been for the pain in this life, I daresay our deliverance and reward would be as precious to us. Achieving for us a glory that far outweighs any inconvenience or sorrow this world offers, it will be worth it when we see God face to face in that day – the greatest joy ever.
In that day, when crowns are given to those who have been faithful, instead of delighting in that crown, we will cast them at His feet – the only Worthy One! What a moment that will be!
Oh Lord, we do not deserve Your kindness, to be rewarded, when we have been so ungrateful at times, hands stained red by our sins. Thank You for the immeasurable joy we have in You and for Your future promises. Help us to keep Your perspective when temporary calamity visits us. You are worth it and we worship You!