“There shall be no more pain…” (Rev. 21:4, NKJV).
In the midst of a very painful season of my life, Holy Spirit whispered to my heart with exquisite tenderness, “I didn’t want this for you.” With His next breath, He added, “What I wanted for you was Eden.”
In that one moment, a flood of revelation inundated my spirit. My heart found center. Looming, overshadowing questions settled beautifully into serenity. The shift inside of me was very similar to the one Asaph describes in Psalm 73. I know you will find this passage helpful. So let’s take a quick look together at this psalmist’s ‘before,’ his ‘after,’ and what happened in between:
His ‘before’: Asaph was overwhelmed with confusion. (Have you been there?) “When I thought how to understand this, it was too painful for me… My heart was grieved, and I was vexed in my mind” (Ps. 73:16, 21, NKJV).
His ‘defining moment’: Asaph had an encounter with God. (Does your soul cry out for Him too?) “I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood…” (v. 17).
His ‘after’: Asaph burst into high worship. (What else can we do when Daddy God comes through for us so beautifully?) “Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (vv. 25-26).
That sums it up very nicely. This Psalm paints a picture very similar to what happened to me that day I was telling you about. My heart was grieved. I couldn’t comprehend why God would allow me to undergo so much suffering. My mind was vexed. My attempts to reconcile my circumstances with His goodness were confounding me. (Can you relate?)
And then I had an encounter with Him. And then I understood. All this pain was not what He wanted for us. What He wanted for us was Paradise. Eden reveals to us everything that was in His beautiful heart for humankind. The celestial oasis we long for – with no pain, no tears, no bereavement, no heartrending goodbyes – was already here, on the earth. That’s how He set it up for us. That’s what He achingly longed… and still longs… for us to have.
But we chose sin. So death came. Hardship and suffering became part of our earthly sojourn, but they do not reflect His design for us.
Yes, He accompanies us intimately through the valley of the shadow of death. Yes, He weeps with every stabbing cry of our hearts. Yes, He took ownership of our soul’s indescribable devastation. Yes, He became one with our anguish. Yes, He surrendered His entire being to its engulfing, agonizing magnitude, on the cross.
Yes, He releases to us what He purchased there. Yes, He unceasingly comforts us, strengthens us, rescues us, and heals us. Yes, He unceasingly works His Romans 8:28 miracles, masterfully turning everything meant to destroy us into immeasurable blessing.
Yes. All of that. He made magnificent, mind-boggling provision for our pain… But He doesn’t want us to forget that He never wanted us to have it in the first place.
To really know Jesus’ heart, you have to understand this. He didn’t have affliction and grief in mind when He was dreaming of you for all of eternity past. What He really yearns to give you… unspeakably so… is still Paradise.
Have you had a moment like Asaph’s, where all of a sudden, encountering God’s presence brought brand new, vital perspective to your situation?