When I served as a bishop, I soon discovered that the main purpose of a bishop was to hand out tissues. It didn’t take me very long to realize that I would see a lot of tears in my five years of service. I would always carry tissues—I still do. I always have them in my pockets, because on any given Sunday I would see tears—tears of sorrow over the death of loved ones, tears of guilt in confession, tears of children over the divorce of parents, tears of parents over rebellious children, tears of wives over inactive husbands, tears of old, tired bodies longing for death—so many different kinds of tears.

I would hand them a tissue and watch them wipe the tears from their cheeks. I became very frustrated because I wanted to help them wipe the tears off their souls, not just their face. Then one day I came across a beautiful verse in the Book of Revelation, a promise God makes to all of us. This is what he assures us: “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Revelation 21:4). That is promised twice in the Book of Revelation and originally in Isaiah. I realized at that moment, though I as a bishop could not wipe away the tears, there was One who could do so. One day he will do so. He will wipe away all tears.

That’s an intimate image. He didn’t say, I will hand them a tissue. He said, I’ll wipe the tears away. When I think of my own experiences, who has ever wiped tears from my eyes? My mother, my wife, maybe a child, but only in the most intimate and deepest relationships would one dare to reach out a gentle thumb and sweep it across the cheek to wipe away a tear. Yet the promise is that the Lord will do that for us.

In the New Testament the Lord reminds us of one of his titles: "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end" (Revelation 21:6; emphasis added). If we take that title, given in the context of wiping away all tears, and apply it to the promise, and then ask the question, What is he the end of? we learn a marvelous truth. He answers us: I am the end of death, I am the end of crying, I am the end of sorrow, I am the end of pain. Now if we ask the question, What is he the beginning of? he will answer: I am the beginning of peace, I am the beginning of forgiveness, I am the beginning of life and happiness and glory. I am the beginning of all joys.

One day, no matter what reason we may have for unhappiness; whatever trial we may face, have faced, or are then facing; one day they will all come to an end. Right at the end of his agonies on the cross, Jesus said, "It is finished." He certainly meant that his Father's will had completely been accomplished, but there is something more in those simple words. His suffering was also over. No man suffered more than he did, and if he came to a point in his life where he could say of his suffering, "It is finished," all of us will come to the point in our existence when we, too, will say, "It is finished."

And it will be finished, no matter what it was. The tears will be wiped away. That end we may hope for. That end we may be assured of. In the meantime we may know that whatever happens he is going to turn it into good for us. So let the fourth watches come. Let the mountain waves crash. Life will be sweet eventually.

more from beliefnet and our partners
Close Ad