(the white hi-lighting is back. forgive me)
Here’s some encouragement from Hebrews 11 for everyone away from home right now:
“All these people admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one.”
So for all of you who are foreigners—the farangs in Thailand, the barangs in Cambodia, the 외국인 in Korea, the 外人 in Japan, the 外国人 in China, the gringos in Peru, and for anyone else that’s ever felt a little lonely—this is a great reminder of where home really is.
Perhaps my favorite thing about the Bible is that it isn’t shallow. God doesn’t cut corners or pretend that being faithful to Him guarantees a pleasant life. Instead, here in His Hall of Fame, he writes, “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance.”
God does not list off his best and brightest and most faithful, hand them a plaque in front of the rest of us, and move on with His Grand Narrative. God, as the Son, was human; he knows the suffering of life—its brevity, its betrayals, its punches, its crucifixions—better than we do. His Word does not give us empty pep-rally speeches, but pauses with true empathy over the reality of things.
Yes, these people “through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; [they] shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; [their] weakness was turned to strength...”
“Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword....[They] were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised.”
Your Christian life is difficult—God does not deny this. The world in which we have the freedom our hearts constantly seek will always curse us and at the end, we—just like the Hall of Fame-ers—will die without having received the desire we’ve cultivated in our hearts. Because
“God planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.”
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou has been Thou forever wilt be.
 “The freedom of a creature must mean freedom to choose: and choice implies the existence of things to choose between.” C. S. Lewis’ The Problem of Pain may be the finest apologetics book ever written.