I have to think this has happened to most of you, where on a particular day you are either going through something you are not enjoying going through at all – or you have on your schedule later that day something that you know you are not going to enjoy going through at all – and you end up saying to yourself something like, “I just can’t wait for another twenty-four hours when this whole thing will be over, because thankfully things will be different tomorrow.” And usually, I guess it’s safe to say, things are different the next day — except that sometimes the way things are different is that they are even worse than they were the day before, right? And then you have to hope all over again that things will be different tomorrow.
The words of today’s Gospel about blessings and woes can help us see that the same thing is true with our spiritual life – with the one big difference about things being different tomorrow is that things are always better tomorrow when it comes to being a child of God, no matter how much worse it can sometimes seem — especially when the difficult things we go through as a child of God are precisely because we are a child of God. Let’s think about that for a few minutes this morning.
Jesus says in these words from Luke’s Gospel in that second paragraph that we are “blessed” if we are poor and if we are hungry and if we are crying and if we are hated by people. That doesn’t sound too blessed or great, does it? But Jesus is talking about spiritual things – our connection to God. And God makes it clear in the Bible that we need to know how poor we are before God because of our sins and how hungry we are because we have no way to get God to love us on our own and how much we have to cry if we think we can get through life on our own and how bad it would be if people who didn’t love Jesus loved us because we behaved like people who didn’t love Jesus – for then we would truly experience the “woes” that Jesus speaks about in that final paragraph – woes that would never have an end to them tomorrow or any day, because every day of eternity would be as unimaginably horrible as the unimaginably horrible day that preceded it.
But what does Jesus say in verse 23 to you and me who are his children because we believe what he has done for us on the cross: “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven.”
If you are crying today because of how much something in your life hurts – something you yourself have done that you shouldn’t have – or something that someone else has done to you that they shouldn’t have – or something that has just happened in your life that is simply beyond anyone’s control… If you are crying today, remember that things will be different tomorrow, because Jesus says in these words that you will laugh in heaven. This won’t go on forever. If you are hungry today because something just isn’t going right with your health or something is just off kilter in your life or your relationship with someone, maybe giving you that kind of uncomfortable pit in your stomach that may even affect your physical hunger, remember that things will be different tomorrow, because Jesus says in these words that you will be satisfied in heaven. This won’t go on forever. And if feel so pitiful and poor because you cannot figure out why so many horrible and pathetic things keep happening in your life or in our world with seemingly increasing regularity, such as we have had to go through once again with recent events in Milwaukee and down in Aurora, Illinois, then remember that things will be different tomorrow, because Jesus says in these words that yours is the kingdom of God. Because you and I know Jesus, we are so rich that we really are ruling over everything in this world with Jesus as kings and queens, because you and I are the only people who can really make any sense of it. We are the only ones who know that Jesus continues to remind us that this is not the place we would ever want to live forever, but that there is a place with him where will live forever in heaven because of what he did when he came to earth to make us acceptable to our holy God.
And if you noticed, what did Jesus say about ours being the kingdom of God? He didn’t say ours “will be” the kingdom of God. He said ours “is” the kingdom of God. In other words, when you know that because of Jesus things will be wonderfully different tomorrow, that makes things wonderfully different today, because this day – today – is one more day to grow in our understanding that we need Jesus and in our confidence that we have Jesus. Ours is the kingdom of God. That’s what I pray we can always with God’s help keep in our minds when we are going through the kinds of things today that may make us wish that tomorrow would come very soon.
And why can we know that things will be different tomorrow and really even today, when we look at things in this way? We can know that things will be — and already are — different, because Jesus is always the same. In that opening paragraph of our lesson, we see the kinds of things we see throughout the Gospels. We see Jesus teaching the people, and we see Jesus doing miraculous wonders as he heals the people. Jesus did those miracles to demonstrate that he was the fulfillment of what he was teaching – that he was the promised Savior who had come to save his people from their sins. That will never change, because Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. And that is why things will never be the same in the lives of those who know that things will be different tomorrow – today and always! Amen.