And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.
“It Is Well with My Soul” [Horatio G. Spafford]
I haven’t always meant those words when I’ve sung them, you know. I meant the “my faith shall be sight” part, but it was the hastening that I wasn’t too thrilled about.
I wouldn’t have admitted it to anyone, especially not to Jesus Himself—not that He needed my admittance to know it was there—but deep down in the undercurrent of my subconscious, I wasn’t too ready for Him to come back.
While I’m being honest, let me also just go ahead and state it wasn’t for holy purposes either—like my desire to evangelize to the ends of the Earth. Truthfully, it was mainly because there was a lot of living that I still had left to do. I wanted to see U2 in concert, walk down an aisle in a flowing white dress, and live in Europe, among other things.
I would hear people talk about Heaven and Jesus’ return with anticipation, and I would just remain quiet. I mean, I knew that one day when I died or Jesus came back (whichever occurred first), I would regret my longing for more Earthly time, but that would be later. Eventually. Not now.
Maybe it was my small town upbringing that left me more sheltered than I realized. Looking back, besides the discipline that resulted from my smart mouth, my childhood was relatively painless. I didn’t even have to process the weight of a death of someone close to me until my junior year of high school when my grandfather died. And even then, he was 89 and had lived a very full life.
Now that I’ve gotten older, I have seen our fallen world with a little more clarity than I once did. I’ve witnessed…
The shame that overwhelmed friends who were sexually abused.
The searing pain that made students turn to drugs, alcohol, or other forms of self-mutilation to cope.
The despair of orphans who were abandoned by their parents.
The dissolution of marriages and families I knew and loved.
My own personal bent toward sin and my labor toward freedom.
And as I struggled through tough conversations and prayed for answers, I began to realize what Horatio G. Spafford—a man who lost his son to illness and his 4 daughters on a sunken ship—might’ve meant by “Lord haste the day…”.
He was no stranger to pain and suffering, but I don’t think Spafford was writing about escape. I think he was reminding himself of hope. All of our pain cannot and will not be resolved this side of Heaven. But one day it will be made right.
So when I visit my vacant grandmother in the nursing home and grieve the Alzheimer’s that has overtaken her mind,
Or when I sit and cry with a precious friend who has lost her baby,
When I see trust finally taking root in my niece as she acclimates from a lonely orphanage to a loving family,
When I listen to a friend tell stories of fleeing war-torn Sudan after he lost his family only to be enslaved, imprisoned, and beaten later,
My heart can’t help but want for Him to “hasten the day” more than I used to. I long for Him to restore us, to make us whole again.
But, I still don’t want it to happen just yet. The difference is now I don’t want Him to tarry for my self-centered pursuits. Spafford and his wife went on to have more children and minister to the poor in Israel. Like I suspect was true for the their family, I look around at all of the pain and I’m even more burdened for people to know this Hope in which I have received. And I’m more burdened about my role in sharing that with them.
The difference is now when I hear someone like Josh Garrels singing: “Sing, Lord come soon,” or “I’m holding on to to the hope that one day this could be made right…” I sing with him. And I mean it. Tears fill my eyes and I exhale.
Because though I walk this road now, He never leaves me, He will be glorified, and one day “all we’ve lost will be restored.”
*Photo credit: MonkeyatLarge