One Friday morning in October 2019, friends, work colleagues, and relatives joined my wife, our two daughters, and me as we buried our youngest child. Our daughters were 3 and 4 years old, respectively, at that time. It seemed quite clear that they did not fully understand the events unfolding that day. The very next morning, a Sabbath, my wife and I took our daughters to the baby’s grave to try to explain what they had witnessed the day before.
They had been looking forward to the arrival of their little sibling for months, and now, suddenly, all their big-sister hopes were dashed. I began to explain how one day we would hear the loud blast of a trumpet sound, and then we would see the sky above us rolling back to make way for the King of kings to descend from heaven with angels numbering ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, to awaken those who had died in Christ. I explained how that little grave would burst open on that day and their little sibling would be raised to life and brought to us by an angel and we would be reunited as a family. The second coming of Christ is a real comfort for grieving believers—and yet it also provides respite for suffering Christians.
Whenever I or a family member or friend goes through an ostensibly unending series of crucibles, it causes me to fervently desire the Second Coming to occur sooner rather than later, because—as a songwriter once stated—”when the trumpet of the Lord shall sound, and time shall be no more, and the morning breaks, eternal, bright and fair,”1 all variations of suffering will be at an eternal end.
This simple knowledge and firm belief in Christ’s second coming is like a refreshing oasis in the desert of life’s gargantuan challenges. As we experience suffering in whichever shape or form, we must recognize that we are in the company of great men and women of remarkable faith who have all been through great suffering as well. Ellen G. White once noted, “All who in this world render true service to God or man receive a preparatory training in the school of sorrow. The weightier the trust and the higher the service, the closer is the test and the more severe the discipline.”2 The apostle Paul therefore chose to glory in his sufferings (2 Cor. 12:9) so that the power of Christ might dwell within him. What a wonderful thought to carry through each trial that comes our way, that the more trying the test and the more severe the discipline—the weightier the trust placed upon you by God, and the higher the service to which He calls you. Therefore, while we may suffer, it is with the knowledge that beyond the suffering, Christ shall soon appear.
1 James Black, “When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder,” The Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal (Hagerstown, Md.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1985), no. 216.
2 Ellen G. White, Education (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1903), p. 151.