When I think about the state of the world, I easily come undone. Same is true when I fall short, sinner that I am, in my words or thoughts or actions. Why does God allow all kinds of suffering and sorrow, mistakes and mess? And what does it mean to be seeking His glory, and seeking beauty, in a world that often looks anything but glorious or beautiful? Years ago I wrote about suffering and pain, sharing some of my thoughts about why God allows it.
Lately I’ve noticed another great source of comfort for me. It lies in understanding the not-yet-finished aspect of God’s work in this world. The pain of becoming emotionally undone is soothed by the knowledge that some of God’s work remains literally undone.
His work of salvation was finished at the cross, but other work remains. Jesus promised He would come back. He told us to be busy while we wait for Him, sharing the good news: everyone who comes to Him is restored to God. God is patient as darkness and sin expand because even as it does, more people are coming home to Him (2 Peter 3:9). More people are finding the freedom and flourishing that comes from faithful living. And more people will step into eternity washed clean by God’s forgiveness. Jesus’s work of salvation is finished in that it has been made freely available to anyone who follows Him, but God’s plan for this earth is still in progress.
The world’s seemingly endless spiral downward into decay and darkness is punctuated by the beautiful salvation of souls and all the goodness that comes from life with God. The world might be dark, but light is shining. Here’s some beauty: against the backdrop of darkness that is always increasing, God works out the exact opposite process in the hearts and lives of those who love Him. He spirals us out of darkness and into brighter and brighter light, so that we “shine like stars in the universe” (Philippians 2:15).
This process of being made to shine like stars (aka sanctification) begins when we’re saved, but it doesn’t end until we are perfected in heaven. Therefore, it is progressive. It’s still not done. Wherever we begin, no matter how depraved or respectable we are, God can take us further. God can make us more and more like Jesus. Paul said “we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 4:18).
I love the sound of ever-increasing glory.
I hope in a God who is still working in me, and in the world.
I trust Him with the darkness because His light overcomes it.
I might come undone. Then I remember: God is un-done too.