A Book of tears…
By Ps Ng Zhiwen
When I first read the Revelation, it engaged my mind. My imagination came alive with the awesome visions, and I got engrossed with trying to figure out what they meant, like what one does with a puzzle book. But my heart was not engaged.
The truth is, I had not thought much about the state of the church, which the Revelation assumes as a given and occasionally lets us in on what’s going on.
In this book, Christians are martyrs, witnesses to Jesus, even unto death. It begins with the Churches in Smyrna and in Philadelphia. They struggled against nasty powerful opposition. Some would pay with their lives (2:10). Time and time again, God’s people in the Revelation are called to endure patiently and to hold fast to Christ. I find that the Revelation is filled with the tears of the saints.
The Church is in a holy war; they are suffering, and they are crying. I’m coming to grips with what it means to suffer as a Christian, to be oppressed because of loyal devotion to Jesus. Now I realize that this is a book that doesn’t want to be merely understood. It must also be felt. I am learning to put myself in the shoes of the Church, and somehow share in their suffering.
Some of us may have such a story in our lives, but I suspect many of us do not think we have such an experience. That does not mean that we are spared from the enemy. We are simply facing different tactics – more of seduction than of outright persecution. But we are all in the same war. And we all hurt even when we do not clearly see the cause.
It’s just more obvious with the suffering persecuted church. When I read of their tears, I learn to feel and to identify with them (as they identify with Christ in His suffering). John wept loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll (5:4). The souls of those who were slain for their witness cry out to God, “How long?” (6:9-10). The Christian life is a way marked with tears, and I groan along with them all.
Part of my discipleship journey through the Revelation has been to recognize this. Since then, God’s word has become even more alive and ‘real’. I am finding this book to be a light that reveals the truth about following Jesus in this broken and hostile world.
I am also finding in it a wellspring of consolation. Because while the Revelation speaks of many tears, it promises that these tears will one day be wiped away by the hand of God (7:17; 21:4). I’m longing for that day.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4
… and of tears being wiped away