“We Will Understand It Better By and By”

The melody still echoes vividly in my memory. I was in college and visiting the Tipton Street Church of Christ in Kosciusko, Mississippi. The rich voices and harmony of my brothers and sisters singing:

Trials dark on every hand,
and we cannot understand
all the ways of God would lead us
to that blessed promised land;
but he guides us with his eye,
and we’ll follow till we die,
for we’ll understand it better by and by.

With tsunamis crashing down; gas prices skyrocketing up; crises in the Middle East; civil unrest in the States; cancer being diagnosed in my family and friends; and consistent attempts to marginalize the message of Christ, it is certainly a time of “trials dark on every hand.”  Part of me desires immediate answers and solutions- just like Job. But- just like Job- those answers are not for me to wrestle with now. (See Job 38-42.) Instead I am called upon by God to live by faith.

I recognize that this seems a poor solution by some- maybe even a uninformed substitute for reality. But to me it is the only context through which to process life with any hope at all.  Outside of faith, the answers often still do not add up- leaving more questions. Plus there is nothing to hope for beyond what we have. God promises more. In him there is hope beyond our trials.

Consider Paul’s counsel in Romans 8:16-39. God promises:

  • Sonship- The Spirit testifies that we are God’s children. We are the sons and daughters of God. Amazing to consider, but true. He adopted us (Ephesians 1:5) and placed us into his family (1 Corinthians 12:18). No matter how dark the trials get we are assured the blessings of God’s family.
  • Inheritance- One of those joys is our promised inheritance which is equal that of Christ himself. Imagine the immense riches awaiting all God’s children! But also know this- it may also mean an equal share in the suffering of Christ. Heaven, however, Paul next reminds us- will be worth it.
  • Future Glory- Compared to the glory of eternal treasure that awaits- our trials are truly minimal (see also 2 Corinthians 4:17). Granted, this is a faith perspective. Job did not think his trials minimal, but eventually through faith was able to realize a greater perspective and rediscover his ability to trust God.
  • Victory- We are “more than conquerors.” Only through a faith perspective can we comprehend this. In Christ we have resources and certain promises that disasters, recessions, terrorism, injustice and disease cannot diminish. Nothing can separate us from the wonderful, eternal consequences of God’s love.

I freely admit. I do not understand it all now, but I put my faith in him who does.

By and by, when the morning comes,
when the saints of God are gathered home,
we’ll tell the story how we’ve overcome,
for we’ll understand it better by and by.

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