“And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels”- 2 Thessalonians  1:7

The seventeenth century Puritan, Richard Baxter had a thriving ministry in Kidderminster.  When he arrived, scarcely one house on any street maintained family religion.  By the time he left, he could say that scarcely could on house on any street be found where hymns were not sung and prayers offered every evening.  He was a godly man of uncommon talents and piety.  But Baxter was also a very sicklyu man.  Throughout his life he was troubled with the effects of tuberculosis, a disease he had suffered as a teen.  He had bouts with kidney stones, swollen limbs, and bleeding at his extremities.  He suffered recurring headaches and toothaches. So severe were his infirmities during his thirtieth year that Baxter thought he was dying.

It was during this episode that Baxter began a practice that he continues for the rest of his life…..a discipline he called “heavenly meditation.”  Every morning for an half hour, Baxter would deliberately lift his thoughts heavenward and contemplate the joys and glories of the life to come.  So productive was this spiritual habit, Baxter decided to encourage others to assume the practice.  This he did by writing the celebrated work that has since become a Christian classic, Saint’s Everlasting Rest, a book that both affirms the benefits of living in the light of eternity and gives directions for the practice of heavenly meditation.  

Trouble in this life should drive modern believers, like Baxter, to rediscover the benefit of living in the light of eternal glory to come.  It is not wrong to draw comfort and strength to persevere in the midst of the present conflict by sharpening one’s focus on the finish line.  The Redeemer’s return was a major emphasis of apostolic preaching, nto t alarm believers, but to encourage them to remain faithful in the midst of their burdens. Far from being a form of escape from reality, the Christian practice of living in the light of two worlds is the ultimate flight into reality from the illusory existence that considers the “here and now” to be everything.  

The patriarchs considered themselves to be ‘strangers and pilgrims’ in the world.  They ‘confessed plainly that they were seeking a better country, that is an heavenly’(Hebrews 11:13-16).  Stirred by their example, early Christians were encouraged to remember that they also belonged to the next world, and such an eternal perspective equipped them to face unbelievable pressures and difficulties.  Living in the daily awareness that ‘here we have not continuing city, but we seek one to come’(Hebrews 13:14), they were willing to identify themselves with the stigma that attached itself to the Lord Jesus Christ, counting it a privilege to suffer for His sake.  No, it is not wrong to derive present comfort from the prospect of future bliss.”(Michael Gowens, Glory to Come, pp.121,122). 

Though the world may be reeling and rocking with uncertainties, this event is planned and predicted by the great Sovereign of the universe.  He is coming back to claim His own.  “And you who are troubled rest with us”.

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