“Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated—of whom the world was not worthy.”
Hebrews 11:35-38
Throughout the centuries, believers have faced pain and persecution, suffering and sorrow as they made their pilgrimage through this weary world. And why were they willing to endure such incredible hardships? Verse 35 reveals the answer: “that they might rise again to a better life.” The one motivating truth that continued to inspire hope was that there was something better coming to those who were faithful.
Although the constant longing to escape the reality of this world is not a healthy sign for a believer; yet in our dark days the certain hope of glory does provide a real incentive for persevering. The apostle Paul even confessed, “My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better” (Phil. 1:23).
So many of the hymn-writers through the centuries have concluded their hymns with the glorious hopes of heaven. Perhaps the clearest expression of the believer’s eternal hope, captured in a hymn, is found in the final verse of My Jesus, I Love Thee:
“In mansions of glory and endless delight, I’ll ever adore Thee in heaven so bright; I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow: If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ‘tis now.”
Deep in the heart of all humanity is the longing for home! And the believer has come to know that the chaos and the confusion, the sin and the sorrow, the evil and the emptiness of this world can never be home!
And so, along with the Old Testament saints, and believers of the centuries since our Lord’s ascension, and the hymn-writers of all ages, we cast our gaze to heaven, and we persevere, while we watch and wait for our faith to be turned to sight!
Near the cross! I’ll watch and wait, Hoping, trusting ever;
Till I reach the golden strand, Just beyond the river.