Why You Will Make It Through 2020 And This Valley Of Tears

Text: Revelation 7:9-17

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

It is pretty obvious that we, as a society, are reaching complete exhaustion.  Some are saying that we are approaching a mental health breaking point in America.

I think they are right. Ask anyone if they are anxious, depressed, or exhausted right now, and you will find that it is quite prevalent. In fact, recent stats show that one out of three Americans struggles with the challenges of life right now. 

Now, the reason why is quite obvious.  It is 2020!  Over the last seven months, people have lost their jobs, they have been locked down, and they have been quarantined.  Schools have been closed, opened, and closed.  Churches have been closed, opened, and closed.  We were once told not to wear masks; now, we are being mandated to do so.  New rules about social distancing are coming up every week; we need to keep 3 feet away from people – no 6 feet – no 10 feet.  COVID-19 infections rates have spiked, then flattened, and then spiked again.  We are told to be of good cheer because we did not have 2.2 million deaths but then also, we are called to be sober because COVID-19 will take another 200,000 lives by December. 

And to make things worse, drug use and drug overdoses are up drastically. 

And to make it even more, worse, there are politics.  Everyone is upset about politics. 

And let us not forget there are hurricanes to the south, wildfires to the west, and riots to the east. 

And so, we are fatigued, depressed, lonely, and full of despair – mainly because of the pandemic.  Doctors and psychologists are noticing this too.  They have actually coined a term for our fatigue – they call it, ‘pandemic fatigue.’  Yes, you heard that correctly, “pandemic fatigue.” 

Now, what is interesting is that even though ‘pandemic fatigue' may be new to many people – for how often do we face a global pandemic in our lifetime – it is not new to the history of our world.  Indeed, everything that we have experienced in 2020 is not new; it has happened before and will continue to happen. Remember that history repeats itself.  Yesterday’s problems are tomorrow's problems.  And contrary to what some say, this life under the sun is not getting better and better and better. Life under this sun is the same old grind – what happens today, happened before.

Dear friends, there is a painful reality that we try to avoid in life.  And that reality is that this life under the sun is hard – full of trials, affliction, pain, and tears – and there is nothing that we can do about it. 

The old theologians used to call this life the “valley of tears.”  The Apostle John calls this life the ‘great tribulation.”  I think these are very fitting terms for life – much better than pandemic fatigue. 

Now, when we say “valley of tears” or the “great tribulation,” we refer to this life full of difficulties. But again, we do not like to admit that this life has problems.  Problems make us nervous and uncomfortable. 

If there is one thing that 2020 has done well, it has shown us the real nature of life – that this life is not easy.  2020 has not allowed us to escape to the comfort of our houses or the distractions of our screens – our imaginary bubbles – to try and pretend that we are o.k.  2020 has not allowed us to pull the sheets over our heads or put our heads in the sand.  2020 has brought us to the reality of what our reading from the book of Revelation addresses.    

In our reading from the book of Revelation, we hear about a great multitude of people who made it through the “great tribulation.”  Keep in mind that this great tribulation is not some future event that has yet to come.  And this great tribulation is not some historical Biblical event.  But instead, this great tribulation is the present valley of tears that every Christian walks through in their daily pilgrimage on earth.

You see, the Apostle John uses imagery about this valley of tears that we live in.  He says that there is hunger, thirst, sun, and scorching heat.  This imagery shows us that this life is tough and full of hardships, trials, afflictions, pain, and weariness.  No food leads to weakness and an aching stomach.  No water leads us to parched mouths and dehydration. The sun burns our skin, and the heat makes us tired.  Again, this imagery is used to describe not only the physical hardships of this life but also the emotional struggles – the soul’s longing for spiritual wholeness. 

But what does John mean when he says that the great multitude came out of the great tribulation?  Who are these people who have made it through the great tribulation? 

Well, dear friends, when the Apostle John sees that vision of millions of people covered in white, before the throne of God, he sees your face!  Let me repeat that.  When the Apostle John sees that vision of millions of people covered in white, who have made it through the great tribulation, he sees – your face! He sees you in victory in that crowd, dressed in white.

Baptized Saints, is 2020 a challenging year?  Yes, it is.  Will you make it through 2020?  Yes, you will, even if you have pandemic fatigue.  And will you make it through the hardships of 2021?  Yes, you will.  And how about the troubles of 2022?  Yes, you will make it through those too.  You see, every year that we live brings with it various hardships and trials.  That is to be expected.  That is the nature of this valley of tears.  That is the nature of this great tribulation.  In this godless world, you will continue to experience difficulties and have suffering.  But take comfort, the Lord Jesus has conquered the world.  He promises you that you will come out of the valley of tears to the glorious new creation.   

Baptized Saints, if you are tired, weary, worried, and full of suffering, lift up your chin and open your ears.  You will make it through 2020 because you are a part of that great bunch of forgiven sinners in the past, present, and future whom Christ will gather to Himself at the end of time. John’s future vision is not some ethereal fictitious dream but a glimpse into your future.  It is a glimpse through the pain and suffering of the present time into the reality of your future. 

Oh, take courage right now, Baptized Saints!  Through Jesus, you have been washed clean of all your sins.  You are baptized into Christ, which means that there is no condemnation.  You are baptized into Christ and are given a robe of righteousness that covers all your guilt.  And as a blood-bought-Christian, the Lord Jesus promises you that He will not only sustain you through this vally of tears but that you will have the glorious new creation to look forward to. 

And this glorious new creation is not some dreamy plastic reality where you bounce on heavenly clouds as a misty spirit.  Ugh!  Some people’s view of heaven and glory are so lame that it makes this present valley of tears quite appealing.  

No!  John says that the glorious new creation that you will be a part of someday has no more hunger, no more tears, no more scorching heat, and no more thirst.  But shelter – safety.   In other words, in the glorious creation that you will be a part of, there will be no more anxiety, depression, exhaustion, distress, affliction, loneliness, or pandemic fatigue. 

Your body that takes a beating in this life and ends up scattered into a bunch of dead particles in the ground… And your soul that suffers much stress and chaos… will reunite at the end of time and be ushered into the glorious new creation.  You – right now – your entire being (body and soul) will resurrect from the grave someday.  But you will be incorruptible and powerful.  You will have the same body that you have now in the glorious new creation, but a body without physical defects, or traces of age, or traces of suffering, since all of these are the consequences of sin.  And in the glorious new creation, there is no more sin!   

And it is worth noting again; you will no longer be in this valley of tears.  The Lord promises to see you through the great tribulation out of the valley.  He will see you through 2020, and He will see you through death. 

And so, whatever else 2020 might bring, we shall not be caught off guard.  And we shall not waver or fear, for John has already seen us in His vision – in the future at the glorious new creation.  The Lord will see to it that we come out of 2020 and out of the great tribulation.  

This is most certainly true. 

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

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