Daily Devotion for Thursday 16th May 2024

After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice, saying,
‘Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!’

And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshipped God, singing,

‘Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom
and thanksgiving and honour
and power and might
be to our God for ever and ever! Amen.’

Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, ‘Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?’ I said to him, ‘Sir, you are the one that knows.’ Then he said to me, ‘These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

For this reason they are before the throne of God,
  and worship him day and night within his temple,
  and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them.
They will hunger no more, and thirst no more;
  the sun will not strike them,
  nor any scorching heat;
for the Lamb at the centre of the throne will be their shepherd,
  and he will guide them to springs of the water of life,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.

Reflection

“No disrespect,” said the man, “but I was hoping your seat would stay empty.” An unexpected greeting from the passenger in the window seat as I boarded a long flight.  I stayed quiet, and tried not to draw attention. Eight hours later he began to talk of travelling home at short notice because his father had cancer. He himself was a doctor, deeply aware of the seriousness of the moment. He was also a son, unable to keep his dad from feeling pain.

Cancer is a diagnosis that is at once unifying and isolating. Most of us will at some point have a cancer or love someone who does.  For many, the experience is tough – mentally, physically, and spiritually. Bruises follow not just from blood draw needles and cannulas, but fearful nights, careless remarks, hopeless moments, setbacks and disappointments. 

In the middle and the aftermath of a health crisis we might feel tender, broken or bruised, wondering how our pain is overlooked by God, who sees even a bruised reed and will not break that. If a stalk of grass has God’s care, why do I or my loved one suffer? 

In Revelation 7, pain follows a life of faith in a hostile empire. For others it flows from illness or poverty. The dreamer observes that healing continues even in death. Pain is our common human experience and just as surely, God acts with tenderness and brings healing. They are without pain, and their weeping is over through God’s kind caress.

Four months after the flight some unexpected mail arrived at my manse. The doctor had remembered our conversation, found my address, and sent a note to tell me that his father was responding to treatment and doing well. We can all act with tenderness to another, and remember that we do not know what bruises, fresh or enduring, they are nursing today.

Prayer

God and the Lamb,
tend us by your Spirit,
that our wounds may heal, 
our bruises mend,
and our eyes be free from tears. 
You bring us out of pain into freedom.
May we witness your loving care again and again
in this world and the next.
Amen.

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