Open the Envelope
Imagine for a moment that a father dies and leaves an inheritance to his two children. The family member handling the estate gives them each a letter containing the cheques for their inheritance.
The first child takes the envelope and puts it in their pocket without opening it. The second child opens it immediately. They are in utter shock as they look at amount written on the cheque.
The two siblings hail a cab to go to the bank to claim their inheritance. They get stuck in an agonizing traffic jam. A truck has overturned and is blocking the highway. They are sitting on the highway with the engine off for three hours as emergency crews attempt to clear the wreckage. The first child sits in disgust, outrage and gets angrier with each passing minute. The second child keeps opening the envelope, marvelling at the implications of their inheritance and passes the time by singing.
They estimate that they could just get out of the cab and walk the remaining 10 kilometers in about two hours, so they pay the driver and proceed on foot.
As they are walking, it begins to rain and they find themselves cold, uncomfortable and entirely unprepared for the weather. The wind begins to blow through them and before long, they find themselves with colds. They both become incredibly frustrated and angry. The first child curses the circumstances, thinks about everything else they needed to do that day and starts to get overwhelmed with anxiety. The second child pulls the cheque from their pocket, peeks at their inheritance again and before long, is happily humming to themselves as they walk in the cold rain.
They come upon a homeless youth asking for money. The first child, annoyed that someone so young would “give up on life” instead of getting a part time job, tries to keep the change in their pocket from jingling as they walk by, pretending not to notice them. The second child reaches for some change, but realizes that all they have on them is a $20 bill. The suddenly remember the figure written on the inheritance cheque they saw when they opened the envelope, so they gave the youth the $20 bill anyway.
A few kilometers later, they can’t help but see this young woman crying openly on the stoop of an apartment. The first child walks past quickly. They figure that they aren’t a trained counsellor, they have their own problems and they don’t need to import anyone else’s stress into their already stressful life. It’s been a long day, they’re cold, they’re sick and they just want this day to end. The second child stops to ask what’s wrong. The first child sees this and out of guilt, goes back to hear what this girl has to say.
It turned out that there was a domestic dispute and she was locked out. The first child rolled their eyes and whispered, ‘Let’s go. We can’t really help here.’ The second child, reached in their pocket, opened the envelope and looked at their inheritance again. Then they offered to pay for the girl to stay at a hotel for the night until she could try and work things our with her family the next day. The hotel was two kilometers back.
The first child was outraged at the inconvenience but didn’t want to look insensitive, so they reluctantly agreed. They walked the girl back two kilometers and paid the front desk for her to stay.
When they finally arrived at the bank, it was closed. The first child went into a fit of rage, cursing and regretting stopping for people along the way. They would need to come back the next day. The second child opened the envelope again, looked at their inheritance and as a smile grew on their face, they began to look for someplace nice to eat.
We have an inheritance in the gospel. The suffering of this world causes us to become nearsighted. God’s grace anchors us to our immovable hope in suffering: Christ alone and the eternal life we are promised, because we are united to Him.
God’s grace rescues us from the nearsightedness of our suffering. The gospel helps us see further.
The message of God’s grace for us in Christ is constantly inviting us to open the envelope and remember our inheritance.
The gospel invites us to leave the inward-curved posture that suffering brings and turn upward where we can find joy in suffering.
God’s grace heals our hearts from the nearsightedness of our suffering that screams “this is all there is, so it sucks to be you.” The Gospel stretches our vision all the way back to what Christ accomplished on HIs cross and casts it all the way forward to the inheritance that is coming with His return. Total restoration.
The gospel is not, “hang on until heaven, then you’ll have joy.” The gospel provides joy now. In our pain. In our suffering. Simultaneously.
We often say our suffering “feels like we’re going through hell.” We can have hope amidst our hell.
Sunday Worship is opening the envelope to stare at the implications of God’s grace.
When Christ instituted the Lord’s supper, He gave us the bread and the cup as physical reminders of an invisible reality: in the end, His trajectory is ours. The pattern of Christ’s life is the pattern of ours.
His life did not end in suffering and death and neither does ours. He has taken our sin from us and in the end, our inheritance is eternal life.
Open the envelope.
We need to. Otherwise, our hearts will do what human hearts do: trust in a better circumstance to be our saviour.
We need to hope in something that suffering and death can’t steal away from us. Otherwise, our ultimate hope is fragile and we will live frustrated, angry, fingers-crossed lives. If we don’t open the envelope and rest in the grace of our inheritance, we will hope that things infinitely smaller than God will give our hearts the rest that only God can give.
The gospel is not just the good news that serves as the entrance into Christian faith. It is also the power by which we live it out. The apostle Paul called the good news of the gospel the ‘power of God’ in Romans 1:16
How is news, ‘power’?
It’s power because it changes us now.
We always doubt God is good when our perceptions of Him are painted by our present pain on the canvas of our disappointment & suffering.
The gospel of God’s grace in Christ enables us to view our suffering through the eyes of hope. Remembering the gospel is to open the envelope. It changes how we walk through the trials, suffering and pain that comes with being a human in a world broken by sin.
When we open the envelope, we are reminded that every good thing is being restored and every sorrowful thing will be removed. To borrow from CS Lewis, “every sad thing will become untrue.”
If you want to know what God is like, you look at Jesus.
If you want to know how God feels about you, you look at the cross.
If you want to know where the pain and suffering of your life is headed, you look at the empty tomb.
Open the envelope.
To listen to the KW Redeemer “Hope in Suffering Series” Click Here.