Bruce Baber (25 June 2017)
"Heavenly joy determined in the here and now"

If I am right about this both spiritually and theologically speaking, this might also help us understand something about suffering.

First off, we will all be happy for all eternity in Heaven.  Joyously, incredibly happy.  However (and this might sound strange, so hear me out), some of us are going to receive a greater share of rewards in which joy will be increased.  Let me borrow the illustration used by Therese of Lisieux's  in her book Diary of a Soul.  Her sister set out two glasses.  One glass was large and the other one was small.  She then filled both of them with water up to the rims.  "Which of them is more full?" she asked.

The answer is neither one was more full.  They were both filled to capacity.

As a side note let me quote the following.  Matthew 6: Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. ďAnd when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward..."

Some people have received their rewards on earth, but those rewards pale in comparison to those received in Heaven.  The have it all now preachers just don't get it.  

Some people will have the capacity to be more happy - more joyous in Heaven even though we will all be as happy as we can be.  Well how do we get bigger glasses in heaven?  How do we get a greater capacity for joy?  It might tie in to how much we allow the Holy Spirit to stretch us right now... and we become more malleable, more pliable by how much suffering breaks down the fleshly man here on earth.  Paul intimated this in Romans 8.  "18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope."

Joni Eareckson Tada has spent her life in a wheelchair.  She has suffered daily while serving the Lord.  She has suffered more than I can begin to imagine.  Will her rewards be greater?  I have no doubt whatsoever.  In the sense that she will receive greater rewards, she will be happier in heaven.  How can that be true if I am as happy and as joyful in Heaven as I can be?  How could anyone possibly be happier than me?  The simple answer might be that her capacity for joy is greater.  To borrow Therese of Lisieux's  illustration again, her glass is simply bigger.

I heard a story once that was difficult to understand.  A woman who had suffered much in life went on a retreat.  Upon arriving, a nun listened to the woman's story.  When the woman finished, the nun said, "God must love you very much."

Hebews 12:6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

In this earthly life we endure suffering.  A non-Christian suffers and so does a Christian.  Some suffer more than others.  Some people get meaner and harder from the suffering they endure.  But, those who open up to the Holy Spirit are stretched.  In order to stretch, they die to self.  They are made bigger vessels.  Their capacity is stretched so that in Heaven they will contain greater joy.  We say He is the potter and we are the clay.  This is so true!

In art class we made clay pots.  Some weren't very pretty.  Those inferior pots were mashed and remade into better ones.  You might say the inferior pot suffers in the process.  But the new pot is better, prettier and more capable of better use and appreciation.

Remember these words from 1 Peter 4:13.  "But rejoice that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed at the revelation of His glory."

Do these thoughts help us come closer to understanding why God allows suffering in our lives?  I hope so.  I don't want to suffer.  I hate suffering.  But, we are PROMISED that our present sufferings prepare us for greater things for all eternity.  It will all be revealed to us in Heaven.  No wonder we so long so much to go home.  No wonder we yearn for the rapture.  No wonder all of creation groans!

Be blessed.  God loves you very much.


Bruce Baber